The importance of giving to others cannot be readily overlooked. We learn the value of contributing from our families when we’re little. Even if your family didn’t place a large importance on it, you can commit yourself to it now.
So why do it?
When we give our time, money, or thought to another we are generating good things in our own minds, hearts, and lives, in addition to benefiting them. Think of it this way, if you look around the world and judge those you see, you end up having a mind of judging. In turn, then, you feel judged by others (because we all assume others think the way we do). If this is true for a mind of anger, judgement, or greed, then couldn’t it be true for giving and caring?
How nice would it be to look around and assume everyone around you wants to contribute, participate, and care for themselves and everyone they come in contact with?
It’s a whole new world.
Volunteering connects us to our community and fights off loneliness. It nourishes the spirit, relaxes the mind, and focuses our energy into productive efforts instead of the ruminating darkness of depression. I often hear from clients who have undertaken a volunteer job statements like:
I don’t know what it is. When I’m volunteering, I just feel so much better. I can focus on their problems and forget about mine for a while. It warms my heart to help a kid or elderly person in need. It’s for them, but it helps me too.
In times when money can feel like such a struggle for so many of us, it is even more important to give your time to something that you appreciate or believe in. The more we value our time, the more valuable it is when we give it to others.
How can you get started? Consider some of the following questions:
- How much time do I have to devote each week, month, or year?
- How long of a commitment am I willing to do? None? Six months? Two years?
- What are some things that I’m passionate about or interested in?
Once you have the answers to the above questions, it’s time to set out. But where to start? You can begin by thinking of what you’re interested in. Local government? Check out your city or town for a board you can sit on. Animals? Reach out to rescues or humane societies. Want to devote the next few years? Maybe it’s time to look into something like Doctors Without Borders or the Peace Corps. Not sure? Try one of the following websites for ideas and connections:
- Create The Good
- National & Community Service
- Volunteer Match
- Give Gab
- Nextdoor (Maybe one of your neighbors needs help with lawn mowing, snow shoveling, etc?)
Whether you devote a few hours once or twice per year, or every day for the next several years, giving back to your community and world is a practice that depression can’t beat.
We’ve almost reached the end of our Moving Through Depression Journey. How have you been doing thus far?
See you next week,
p.s. thanks for the forgiveness on this post being late this week!