She gives all day long at work. She’s the first one to sign up for the 5K fundraiser race, the church potluck, the summer festival event planning team. Her heart breaks when she sees a hungry man sitting on the street corner. She can’t walk into a pet rescue center without adopting a new friend. She lights up when she hears stories about beautiful people doing beautiful work in the world. She wants to be one of those “beautiful people” too, not realizing that she already is.
Also… she’s dead tired most of the time, struggling to care for herself when so many other people have urgent needs, too.
Sound like someone you know?
Sound like… you?
How do you balance your desire to save the world… and the need to eat, sleep, and occasionally take a shower?
One thing that helps me to stay sane is reminding myself that “helping others” doesn’t have to mean “over-committing” myself to the point where I can barely breathe.
There are so many ways to make a difference in the world, and many of them take very little time.
Here are 4 beautiful, powerful things you could do today and still have time to spare:
: Spend 10 minutes playing the Free Rice game. It’s an online game that tests your vocabulary and helps you learn new words. For every answer you get right, 10 grains of rice get donated to the United Nations World Food Program. Over 99 billion grains have been donated to date. Every grain helps!
: Spend 10 minutes clearing out your closet—or even just one t-shirt drawer. Get rid of anything you don’t love or don’t need. Put everything in a bag labeled “Donation.” Some states have a cool service called Pick Up Please sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Association. A driver will come to your home, grab the bag, and donate your lightly-used goods to veterans and other people in need. Here’s a list of everything you can donate (not just clothes). This couldn’t be easier to do (you don’t even need to leave the house) and it really makes a difference. Locally, call St. Vincent De Paul Society (the mission is to end poverty through systemic change and loving service) or The Arc or Dakota Boys Ranch.
: Spend 10 minutes having a conversation with your child about why hitting people is never OK. Whoa. I know. This is really heavy. But as this sobering video points out we spend countless hours teaching our kids how to play sports, hit balls, score points and goals, and yet… how many minutes have you spent teaching what not to hit? Have a talk with your son and daughter about why domestic violence is never acceptable. Also remind them that harsh words can hurt as much as a fist.
If you’re not sure what to say, visit the website Futures Without Violence for tips. This may seem intense, but we all need to do this. This kind of conversation could change the course of your kid’s life, the life of your kid’s future partner or spouse, and the world.
: Online Shopping. You do it all the time, right? So here’s how to make a difference while you shop. Check out GoodSearch, ShopAnthropy, Giftback.com, iGive.com and Amazon Smile for great ways to shop with a purpose. The give back percentages range from one half a percent all the way up to 10% of your purchase.
Like these ideas? Want a few more? I love this list of 25 ways to make the world a better place from the lovely and wise website Elephant Journal. If you go through that entire list, here are 100 more ideas. Choose a couple fun ones with kids to do for the holidays. Or, you could always just keep playing that Free Rice game until we cross the 100 billion grain mark! Keep clicking. You’re helping!
To all of my fellow healers, helpers, and do-gooders out there…
Don’t forget to take some time to tend to your own needs, too. I know it’s easier said than done, but you’ll have so much more energy and brilliance to offer the world when your own personal “fuel tank” is full.
To a better, happier, healthier world… for all of us.
~ Dr. Sue