How to Help Yourself by Helping Others

by Connie

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I believe helping others and volunteering is a blessing, never an obligation. 

It’s something I get to do.  It’s not something I have to do. 

Sharing a spirit of generosity always brings unexpected returns.  The investment you make expands forever, exponentially. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re giving your time or donating money or things; you’ll always get more than you give.  Always. 

It’s another Law of the Universe, as pure and unfettered as the Law of Gravity. 

Going Against the Flow

Giving has always been my nature, in contradiction to my birth family’s belief system.  I don’t know how I inherited this gene, but I’ve always felt blessed, knowing it’s a part of me. 

My parents and siblings weren’t ‘givers’.  On occasions when a school project forced them to unwillingly give of themselves, their egos sought never-ending credit, adulation and accolades for their half-hearted efforts. 

My family of origin never understood what ‘giving from their hearts’ meant.  They were cheap, in more ways than one.  Their miserly spirits focused on scarcity. 

Even at a young age I felt sorry for my stingy family, much the way I felt sorry for ‘The Grinch Who Stole Christmas’ before he reformed, for I knew the loss was theirs. 

Determined and Deep-seated Roots

I began volunteering at the local hospital when I was 12 years old.  My parents made fun of me for helping out there. 

They repeatedly told me, ‘A lot of people are smart enough to get paid to work at the hospital.  Not you, though…you volunteer.’ 

I was bullied by my parents, for helping others. 

Undeterred, I shared my time with the hospital, once or twice a week for 5 years, because:

  • I knew they needed and appreciated my help,
  • I knew I was making a difference to the patients and staff
  • And because it made me feel good, inside. 

A Commitment to Others

Prior to becoming a couple, my husband, Steven and I helped each other with our charitable causes. 

Part of our pledge as a couple is to help others and we volunteer extensively within our community. 

Not only do we believe the English Reformer, John Bradford’s quote: 

‘There, but for the grace of God, go I.’

But we also trust Aesop’s words, as well:

‘No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.’

The Benefits of Volunteering

When I was young, I knew helping others made me feel good.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I understood why it had that effect. 

Volunteering and helping others can help you: 

  • Feel needed and appreciated
  • Meet new people who share a common interest
  • Make a difference in the lives of others
  • Learn new skills or enhance your abilities
  • Share your knowledge with others
  • Improve your health by keeping you socially engaged as well as  physically and mentally active
  • Build your self-esteem and confidence
  • Try new experiences and social situations on for size
  • Enhance your resume and networking contacts
  • Show your appreciation for help or assistance you may have received in the past
  • Step outside of yourself and any challenges you’re facing
  • Transform your life because you feel like you belong to something greater than yourself 

Whether your goal is to connect with your spirituality, feel a deeper connection to your neighbors or to fill a need in your community, serving others will enhance your life, in ways you can’t begin to imagine. 

I encourage you to get out there and help someone, in some way. 

Here’s how to get started: 

  • Spend time thinking about what works best for your schedule.  You can find one-time opportunities or you can choose a more frequent or regularly scheduled commitment. 
  • Make a list of things you like, so you’ll enjoy your time helping others.  If you enjoy books, look for ways to share your love of reading with others.  Ask about volunteer opportunities at your local library or school, like reading to children at story time. 
  • Think about a specific groups or demographics you’d like to help.   Maybe you have a soft spot for single parents, animals or teens.  Contact non-profits in your area that provide support to those you feel most connected to and ask how you can help. 
  • Enter the word ‘volunteer + your city’ into a search engine to find local opportunities or search Volunteer Match.

Remember, no effort is too small.  The ripple effect in your life will surprise you; not to mention the impression you’ll make upon the lives of those you’re helping. 

If possible, bring a child along, too.  (First ask the organization if it’s okay for kids to come with you.)  They’re never too young to experience the impact they can have on the lives of others. 

Kids who volunteer are more likely to continue helping others by volunteering, as adults. 

And that’s always a good thing, because we’re all in this together. 

What about you?  Do you give back to your community?  If so, please share how you help.  Maybe you don’t feel a calling to help others.  Do you ever feel conflicted about taking that position?  Either way, I’d love it if you’d share your opinion. 

If you like this post and feel others would enjoy reading it, please click on the share buttons to email, tweet or facebook ‘like’ it. 

Thank you for your support in reading my blog and for sharing it with others.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and Happy New Year!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ken Wert December 31, 2011 at 2:19 pm

This is a great post, Connie!

Learning to take joy in service to others is an essential characteristic of happiness. It’s amazing you found it at such a young age coming from such inhospitable circumstances.

What an inspiration you are, Connie! And such an inspiring article. We do a lot of volunteer work with our church. And you are so right about how it makes us feel. There are times I’ll have volunteered for some upcoming project, but forget about it. Then when the date arrives to actually go do the service project, I’ve found myself from time to time less than willing. But what has always stood as a testimony to the power of service is how I feel once I start serving and how I feel afterward in the afterglow of the service.

Thanks for sharing this, Connie!
You might also like Ken Wert\’s recent post..6 Obsessions that Will Make you a Better Person in 2012My Profile

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Connie January 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Hi, Ken,

Thanks for making the time to share your thoughts.

I’m glad to hear we’re in good company, by both being so human. :~)

There have been times I’ve committed to help others and when the appointed time arrives I’ve found myself wanting to do anything but.

The reasons why could be justifiable…’I'm tired, I didn’t sleep well the night before, I need some ‘me’ time…’

Like you, I rise to the occasion to keep my promise, as I am nothing, if not my word.

Once there, I find joy and happiness in stepping outside myself and everything that’s going on in my little world.

Any perceived cares float away into the ether and I find a warmth inside me from the connections I’m making to others and to the world, at large.

You refer to this as the afterglow and indeed it is, for the days and weeks following my service everything seems a little warmer and more loving.

And that’s always a nice place to live, now isn’t it?

Thanks for sharing your post. An excellent read to start 2012.

Connie

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Justin Mazza January 3, 2012 at 7:42 am

Hi Connie,
“It doesn’t matter if you’re giving your time or donating money or things; you’ll always get more than you give. Always.”

I found this to be true myself. When we take our attention off of ourselves and devote our energy to helping others “good” things always come back to us.
You might also like Justin Mazza\’s recent post..2011 a Year in Review for Mazzastick.comMy Profile

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Connie January 3, 2012 at 9:22 am

Hi, Justin,

Thanks for writing and sharing your thoughts.

‘Taking attention off ourselves and devoting our energy to helping others’ as you said, is an extension of the Law of Attraction.

When we share our energy and attention with others we are given the chance to ‘walk a mile in another’s shoes’, so to speak.

The force multiplier of the LoA is what brings those good feelings and our positive energy back to us.

‘May the circle be unbroken’.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll visit, again.

Connie

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