“Those who are the happiest are those who do the most for others” Booker T. Washington
Once in awhile, I get absorbed by my own world of problems and stresses, to the point where it can be hard to get out and do anything. I turn inward, and when presented with a new opportunity or activity, an inner voice cries “What’s the point? Why even bother? What difference will it make?” This voice, if listened to, can paralyze us into inaction. It wants us to become complacent, or even worse, to wallow in self-pity and despair. The best way I’ve found to counter this voice is to get out and do some service work. This type of work in particular can help you feel connected with others, regain a feeling of purpose, and help you get out of your head.
There’s something about uniting for a greater good that makes us feel connected with other people. Whether it’s fellow volunteers or the group/community you’re providing service for, you have at least a vague awareness that what you’re doing is benefiting another person. I’ve found this is a great method of pulling myself out of a funk. My problems melt away as I remind myself that I’m surrounded by so many others who might need something I have to offer. Volunteering also reminds us that inspiration comes in many forms. Although volunteer work at times seems unglamorous, it can invoke an overwhelming sense of gratitude and belonging. And, if you happen to be feeling down, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up” (Mark Twain).
While you’re helping make the lives of others better, you’re also reminded that there is so much more. We all have bad days- car problems, stress at work, or generally just feeling low- it’s just part of being human. The great thing is that we have complete control over how we react to these situations. We can pull away from the world and wrap ourselves up a self-pity blanket, or we can reach out and grab onto something larger. That’s not to say your problems are not real or upsetting- you should never minimize your emotions. I know when the world is throwing a lot at me and I want to crumble, sometimes my reaction is to think that ultimately, I don’t matter and there’s no point. Volunteer work is a perfect counter to such thoughts: “Devote yourself to the community around you and devote yourself to something that gives you purpose & meaning” (Mitch Albom).
Creating Wish for the Sky (http://wishforthesky.com/) was my solution to a life-changing situation, and it brings me joy to bring a bit of joy into the lives of others. Doing something selfless for another, no matter how small it may seem at the time, can make a huge difference in someone else’s life. I also hope that it inspires my children to do similar work! It’s the best way I’ve discovered to get out of a rut, and you never know what else you’ll gain along the way!