Once a month, my wife and I volunteer to visit a seniors home and conduct a church service for them. Periodically we wonder about our time commitment to these folks, but their gratitude each month helps us see the importance of being there.
If you want to make a difference in your community and in your own life, volunteering is the way to go. Here are seven reasons why you should make the commitment.
To give something back to others – First and foremost, volunteering is about giving. Agencies and organization that require volunteer services are generally involved in improving society and the world around them. When you volunteer, you contribute to their efforts to improve life.
To learn something about yourself – You might find out you have a knack for relating to seniors. You might have compassion when working with people during disasters. When volunteering puts you in new situations, you discover skills and traits you may not have used before.
Because you have a passion – You love animals, so you get involved with an animal shelter. You’re concerned about the environment, so you join a wetlands cleaning project. You practice magic tricks in your spare time, so you entertain at a children’s hospital. Put your passion to work.
To develop new skills – Get involved with Habitat for Humanity and learn how to put up drywall. Volunteer in a suicide-prevention program and learn crisis intervention. Many volunteer organizations provide training for the skills you will need to use.
To have some fun – An afternoon of baseball as a Big Brother will be far more entertaining than sitting on the couch watching baseball.
To improve your resume – If you’re a web designer and you volunteer to build a web site, you have a new entry in your portfolio. Volunteering in your skill areas will add experience to your resume.
To feel good about yourself – Hopefully, when you decide to volunteer, it’s not with ulterior, self-serving motives. However, when you sincerely give of yourself to others, it’s amazing how good you start to feel about your own life.
It’s time to do something! Get out there and volunteer.
Do you have trouble remembering things? Are you having trouble sleeping or is your stomach in knots? Are you sleeping too little or too much? All of these can be symptoms of stress. A certain amount of stress is good –or
even necessary– for all of us, but it is easy for it to get out of hand. Here are a few simple tips that can help you deal with stress.
Evaluate the situation. How important is this activity to the overall goals and direction for my life? If it’s not really that important, don’t sweat it.
Be positive. Positive thoughts can generate positive results and negative thoughts, negative results. Even something as simple as changing your perception from, “I have to get the done by Monday,” to ” I am going to get this done by Monday” can make a big difference.
Visualize a successful outcome. Rather than focusing on the pressure of finishing a task, focus on the benefit or reward that will come from completion.
Reward yourself. If the situation or project doesn’t have an intrinsic benefit or reward, create one. “Once I’ve finished painting the bedrooms, I’m going to spend a day relaxing at the beach.”
Change the things that cause you stress. For those stressors that can be changed, do so. If you hate going to the supermarket at peak shopping times, reschedule for quiet periods. If lack of sleep adds to your tension, get to bed earlier.
Strive for excellence, not perfection. Recognize that any number of factors can affect the perfect completion of a job. Strive to make your work the best in can be under the circumstances.
Take care of your health. A fit body responds better to stress.
Have fun. Play as hard as you work. Develop a sense of humour. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Have a quiet place. Go somewhere that takes you away from the things that cause your stress. Have a peaceful corner at home. Take a walk in a park. Get away from the office at lunch hour and sit on a bench.
Talk to someone. A friend or family member can be a good place to get things of your chest. In more serious situations, perhaps a support group or a counsellor is in order.
We spend a lot of time in the pursuit of happiness. Happiness is a great thing, but can be subjective, based on circumstances. Joy brings a deeper sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Joy is foundational; a sense that all will work out, even when the immediate circumstances aren’t going the way we would like.
Richard Wagner said, “Joy is not in things; it is in us.” We chase happiness, but we build joy. There are many ways to develop a joy-full attitude; here a three simple daily activities anyone can try:
Start each day with a pleasant word – When the alarm sounds in the morning, the first words I say to my wife are, “I love you”. Start the day with a positive thought or word, even if —or especially if— you’re not a “morning person”. If the first thought in your head as you wake up, involves grumbling, you can bet the rest of the day is going to feel lousy.
Smile more – You don’t have to spend the day grinning like an idiot, but there is nothing quite as infectious as sharing a smile. It’s impossible to remain miserable or angry while smiling. People who develop a sense of joy can smile even through the deepest loss.
Encourage someone everyday – One of the quickest ways to build joy is to shift the focus from yourself to others; and an easy way to shift that focus is to encourage someone. This is active behaviour. It’s not good enough to think positive thoughts about some else. Take the time to communicate the encouragement.
Joy is infectious. Not only can we share it with those around us, but as we share joy, it continues to grow within us. Get out there and share some joy.
When we come to the end of a project or activity, it is common to review the outcomes. It can be very easy to consider these outcomes from a negative perspective, what went wrong rather than what went right. Next time you need to review a project, try looking at its successful outcomes. At the very least, try balancing each negative consideration with a positive.
What went wrong?
What went right?
What are our needs?
What are our strengths?
What did we learn?
What did we learn to do better?
What issues should we put on the agenda?
What issues can be taken off the agenda?
How can we improve?
What strengths could we make more use of?
What’s missing from this group?
What are the assets of this group?
What would you do differently next time?
What would you do the same next time?
What do you want to achieve?
What is your recipe for success, and how will you apply that?