Love Thy Neighbor – Finding Fulfilment in Giving Back
When you set your goals for this year, did you include any community service goals for you to give back?
Growing up, I used to help my grandmother do mission work at church. She taught me to help whenever I could. She was generous almost to a fault; always finding ways to care for people who were less fortunate than we were. Throughout my life, I have held these memories close to my heart, and I continue to extend myself in mission work whenever I can.
Mission work has demonstrable benefits for both the receiving communities and the mission workers. Everyone wants to feel seen and cared for, and when you give back to your community you allow the people you help to know that they are not forgotten. You let them know that they belong. In return, they bring out the best in you and show you how capable you are of being a hero.
Not everyone can go on mission trips, especially not during a pandemic. But even during normal times, volunteering for a mission trip is not as accessible to some as it might be to others. And yet, if you are keen on giving back and spreading the love this, you do not need to travel far at all.
As the saying goes, charity begins at home. There are so many people going through the most challenging seasons in their lives right before our eyes. People who are fighting battles we could not even imagine, hoping to catch a break even just for a day. I think of these as the mission grounds that are hidden in plain sight. And if we take the time to look, it will not be long until we discover ways, we can be true heroes in our communities.
Did you Know Giving Back is a Part of Self-love?
If you go to www.tawawn.com and check out my article on The Power of Self-Love, you will see we explored the topic of self-love and why it is important. In that article I combined my and used HuffPost definition to define self-love.
True self-love is a commitment to your evolution to walking in your power. Your power to live fully in your potential, honoring yourself and potential, continuously growing and learning to evolve into the best version of yourself, giving the best of you to you, so you can give to others.
Part of that definition talks of honoring one’s potential by continually seeking ways to grow. And one area that we constantly need to grow in – every one of us – is kindness and generosity.
Sometimes we get so caught up in our own woes that we fail to realize the suffering of others. We have become so hardened by today’s selfish culture of seeking only your good and not the good of others. It is sad to say that even the rhetoric around self-love and self-care has been twisted so much that people build selfish habits in the name of ‘self-love’.
As part of your journey to becoming your best self, and creating your best life, if you haven’t considered this, why not add growing in kindness and generosity as one of your personal goals? The world is in the middle of a pandemic. So this is an awesome time to give back, and make a difference in your community, or globally.
I understand that the global pandemic makes it hard to give back to the community. The logistics of planning a soup kitchen or community potluck are made that much more daunting with all the restrictions on public gatherings and social distancing. Even if these restrictions are being slightly relaxed, the virus is still very much present in our lives and you may not be comfortable going out just yet. However, there are still ways you can express your love for your community.
Here are three simple ways you can do just that:
- Listen to the People Around You
People are going through a very rough time right now. Some have lost their jobs and are wondering how they are going to feed their families. Others are grieving the loss of loved ones, while others are simply having a hard time with their mental health due to these extended periods of isolation.
Whenever you find yourself in the position to have a conversation with someone – stranger or not, in person (at a distance) or over the phone – give them your undivided attention. Sometimes, all a person needs are to be heard as they verbally express their frustrations. You may find that you do not even need to say anything, that listening is enough. When you do respond, though, offer words of encouragement and positivity. Even a small interaction like this can brighten someone’s day.
- Use Your Skills to Help Others
First responders have been the biggest heroes during this time, literally risking their lives each day to care for people infected with the virus. They have used their skills to save millions of lives.
We cannot all be first responders but we each have a set of skills that we could use to help other people in our community. If you are a graphic designer, you can offer to help a local business struggling with their branding. If you are a brilliant musician, why not set up an online “concert” for the old people’s home and play their favorite songs?
- Donate Some Groceries
There are many people who have lost their jobs and are struggling to get a meal for themselves and their families. If you have ever gone hungry, surviving on “struggle meals” day in and day out, you know how unpleasant that experience can be. Are you in a position to spare $20? $30? You can band together with other people and buy some groceries for families in need. You do not have to go to their house either, just shop online and have the groceries delivered to their doorstep. Alternatively, you could find out from local churches and other such communities about any outreach programs they have going on and offer some financial assistance. I know you have heard it a million times, but every dollar truly counts.
A common trait of highly successful people is that they give back generously. Generosity has been associated with feelings of happiness and fulfilment. Several studies have demonstrated the science behind the correlation between selflessness and happiness. If fulfilment is something you aspire to in your life, then try being a little more kind and a bit more generous.
As you continue your journey to becoming your best self, and creating your best life, I encourage you to give thought of how you can give back.