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Indulging feels even better when it's good for others too

Craig, right, and Marc Kielburger.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The question: Do you ever take a "me day"?

The answer: June Callwood once gave us some great advice, at a dinner we shared with her not long before she passed away. We were excited to meet the social-justice icon who had helped found such organizations as Casey House for people with HIV-AIDS, and we peppered her with questions and ideas. She left us that night with this thought: "Changing the world is a marathon, not a sprint."

We walked her to the restaurant's parking lot, where she showed us her beloved sports car. Ms. Callwood told us that everyone needs balance and an occasional indulgence to maintain the stamina required to accomplish life's big goals. Then she sped away.

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We thought first of friends who have been so dedicated that they lost sight of that balance, and of young newcomers to the non-profit world who think success requires superhuman, Mother Teresa-like sacrifice.

But we've had a chance to see the "human" side of some of our greatest heroes. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of Liberia and one of the winners of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, has her framed collection of jigsaw puzzles (some of them with 1,000-plus pieces) around her home. Canada's "Man in Motion" Rick Hansen takes a break fishing.

There was a time when we turned to extreme sports such as rock climbing, white-water rafting and bungee jumping. Now, we do most of our relaxing with cheese-smothered nachos watching a Leafs game on TV. When we can, we sleep in, exercise or cook a leisurely meal for family and friends.

The holiday season that begins this week with the start of Hanukkah is traditionally seen as a bit of a binge time, and we're no different. We travel to Windsor, Ont., to celebrate Christmas with our extended family and our 96-year-old grandma, indulge in a huge meal and collapse.

We focus on finding new ways to indulge that are better for the planet and our fellow inhabitants. That can mean chocolate fudge "ice cream" that's vegan and organic or splurging on a pair of ethical shoes or spending a night on the town attending a fundraiser party.

Splurging never feels so good as when it's good for someone other than just you. And it can be just as delicious, exhilarating and fulfilling.

Craig and Marc Kielburger co-founded Free the Children. Follow Craig at and @craigkielburger on Twitter. Send questions to Should I give change to a homeless person on the street?

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