There's an awful lot of 'gimme, gimme, gimme' out there, don't you think? We want without thinking, who makes this possible? I want this or that for my kids, my family, myself, but who lays the foundation, works behind the scene, gets the job done?
You know, the one great benefit of volunteering is that it just makes you feel good and the added camaraderie of those sharing the mission is a great bonus. Who can't use more like-minded friends? It's true, if life throws you a rotten bone, puts a puddle under your shoe, or a tack on your chair, do something nice for someone else or your community. It helps. Shovel out a neighbor's stoop, help an elderly person load their groceries, find a stray dog a home, or weed someone’s flower bed. That glow can be the best medicine in the world.
Do you smell what I'm steppin' in here? Volunteering, giving of yourself, can be the best gift you give to yourself, with benefits that spread well beyond your own little bubble.
I know, we all get so settled in our routines that we don't look forward to any interruption, especially after working all week. But it can be ever so satisfying to do something for someone else. Truly. And it can be as little as offering a smile to someone who needs one. That’s tiny, but huge all at the same time.
And there’s a lot of ‘if I volunteer once, they will keep calling.’ There is a very easy solution to that, the word ‘no.’ That little, tiny word has become easier for me the older I am, but it’s a matter of balance in life, and everyone’s balance gets out of whack at times. We have to respect each other for that. But use ‘no’ sparingly, and for good reason.
There are so many times when ‘yes’ is more beneficial to our mental health than you might imagine. I will never achieve the amount of public service that many in our community rise to, but I try. Now that I’m wiser, I pick and choose what it is I lend myself to, simply based on my interests and where I can be of the best use, because that’s where the most impact can be made.
And the positivity we put out there, however small, matters. Pick up a piece of trash, try to turn someone’s frown upside down, phone a friend, put something funny out on social media, offer a heartfelt compliment, or do something really old-fashioned like send a card or letter through the mail.
I have made such wonderful friends through community involvement, shared many good laughs and even felt a sense of family from those around me. My level of volunteerism has ebbed and flowed over the years with the demands of family and work, and there have been times I have needed to step away to recharge the battery. The point is, if now is not the best time for you, then look ahead to a time that might be right.
In this current time of so much negativity, we need to feed our souls with the positive. We NEED it! Plain and simple. And rather than look for it from someone else, look inside. That’s where giving to others and the community around us can be so important.