By Christopher Smith

Enrichment speaks to the positive. By definition it means to make rich or richer by the addition of a desirable quality, attribute or ingredient. In other words, a positive impact. When we enrich our lives we’re adding attributes here and there that make us richer for it, for the experience. That being said, enrichment can really come through anything, at any time for anyone. Pretty vague, right? But think about it.

When you’re driving in to work, is NPR just on in the background or are you actively listening to the story about the impact of health care reform? When your favorite Wilco song comes on, how does it move you? Does it take you somewhere in your mind, to a moment or a place in your memory? What about education? And I’m not even talking about a formal academic setting; it can simply be sitting at home watching a show about whales on the Discovery Channel. Are you just watching images flash by or are you in tune with what’s being presented?

What I’m proposing is that to truly be enriched you have to be engaged.

Being engaged means that you are willingly putting an effort into the activity. Whether it be education, travel, family, love. These are all things that you could potentially call “enriching” endeavors but without engagement, they are simply just experiences.

I’ve been fortunate to be enriched through many avenues throughout my life. My education, my marriage, fatherhood, family, and yes, even my job (but more on that in the future.) What I’ve found is that the more I put into my experiences, the more I get out and the more enriched my life becomes. Experience and enrichment don’t automatically go hand-in-hand. I have to actively participate in my own enrichment. I’ve found that it isn’t just something that happens to me…I’m personally responsible for it.

While opportunities for enrichment surround us all on a daily basis, we need to engage with those opportunities to truly become enriched. There is a difference between an “experience” and an “enriching experience” and we have to own that. How will you make your next experience enriching?


Christopher joined the Professional and Personal Enrichment team within Michigan State University’s Alumni Association in May of 2013. As the Assistant Director of Alumni Enrichment, his primary focus is to develop meaningful programs to deliver to Spartans in East Lansing and throughout the world.



  1. Stephanie 28 June, 2013 at 08:55

    Great blog! As a student, it’s always easy to see which of my classmates are engaged and which are just doing the bare minimum. The former is a much more enjoyable experience!

  2. Stephanie 28 June, 2013 at 08:53

    Great blog! All very true. As a student, it’s always clear which classmates are engaged and which ones are just doing the bare minimum. The former is a much better experience.

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