Mahatma Ghandi said it well, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” In our desensitized digital world, it’s important to remember to look up from our screens, take a moment to breathe, and focus our energy on lifting up our community. Giving back is phenomenal soul food, and the effect it has on both the recipient and giver are worth the work. If you’re in need of a lift, here are some ways to pay it forward:
Empower the Underserved
Organizations like the PHS are dedicated to creating change in a space where it’s much needed. Through housing, advocacy, and several other services like urban farms, clean injection sites, and charitable thrift stores, the PHS exists to provide basic qualities of life to those in need.
Become a Big Brother or Sister
In lower income communities, the need for inspiring role models is growing. Organizations like Big Brothers and Big Sisters cultivate community and build relationships that last a lifetime. Plus, how good does it feel to know someone looks up to you, and that you’re making an impact in their lives for the better?
Adopt a Pet
Yes, this one’s a huge commitment. But oftentimes people are searching for something in life, and don’t realize how much bringing another life into their own can improve it. It really is that big of a deal—you’re saving a life. There are millions of domesticated animals facing euthanization every day. If you’re a lover of animals, you won’t regret the decision once that animal gives back to you tenfold. You can go with the well-known SPCA, or a smaller local group like the West Coast Pet Project.
Adopt Around the World
Adoption without the commitment. You can sponsor a child, adopt an endangered animal, or adopt a place in nature. Simply save that $5 you’re going to spend on a coffee once a week, and you could be protecting our world and its most precious assets.
Unfortunately, litter is everywhere. Despite our best efforts to curb the waste we create, styrofoam and plastic drink rings are still ending up in our oceans, endangering wildlife. Organizations like the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup organize group cleaning efforts that stimulate community and help the earth. Win-win, right? There are other groups you can tap into via social media (check your Facebook), and each is a worthy initiative. Not only will the planet feel cleaner, so will you.
If you’re still unsure any of these are right for you, there are several day-to-day ways to feed your soul by making tiny shifts. Is there a relative you’ve been avoiding who might be in need of some attention? Maybe you’ve been too busy to take your dog on an extra long walk lately. Have you stopped to spend some real quality time with your partner, no phones or major distractions present? Or maybe on your walk to work there’s a familiar face on the same corner, saying hello and asking for some change every day, and maybe tomorrow you hand them a bill and a smile.
There are plenty of ways to give back—you just have to look up.