They’re the ones to feed the homeless while offering a genuine smile of encouragement. They’re the ones who work tirelessly for months to organize an event that raises money to cure a disease, eliminate drunk driving and give shelter dogs some love and a walk. They’re the ones who lead you around a museum, adding value and insight because they are passionate about keeping the story alive. We can learn a lot from volunteers and the way they live their lives.
Count your blessings. Take time to realize what you have. Appreciate your family. Let your friends know how much you treasure their friendship. Make time to connect with people who have made an impact on your life. And I’m not talking about a message on Facebook. Pick up the phone. Drop a card in the mail.
Define your passion. Think about what ignites your passion. About what cause do you care deeply? 25 years ago, I got involved in volunteering because someone from the American Cancer Society asked me to volunteer. Having just lost my mother, I said yes. I was driven to make an impact on the disease that took my mother at a much too young age. That opportunity to make a difference was healing in so many ways and I met incredible people who I now call friends. It was nothing less than life changing. Volunteering isn’t work when you truly believe in the mission of the organization you support.
Give back. Once you’ve done the self-evaluation of counting your blessings and defining your passion, it’s time to take action. I hear many people say, “I should really go help out at the shelter.” Or, “I need to make time to serve at the soup kitchen.” Stop talking about it and do it! Give back. Take the bold step and go to a website or pick up the phone and learn how you can help. Helping others is an adrenaline rush and like running, once you do it, you will want that feeling again.
So this Thanksgiving, stop talking and start doing. Pick a cause. Learn how you can help. Then do it. It’s the purest form of giving with an added bonus. While the recipient of your volunteer effort will benefit, you will benefit too – in ways you never imagined.