“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
As good people, we want to help others. Sometimes, life gets in the way of that. We all have our own problems, whether they are work problems, family problems, money problems, or relationship problems. Sometimes, life can get so stressful that it’s hard to figure out how to continue to be a good person while still focusing on ourselves and making sure that our problems and issues get taken care of.
Wanting to help the people around us can feel so incredibly overwhelming, especially when life is throwing us our own curve balls. Fortunately, there are ways to still help others around you, even when you have your own problems. All you have to do is try and do some of these nice things every day, and you’ll be able to help others in ways that count.
Remember, Barack Obama once said, “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” It’s time to make a change!
5 Little Ways To Make A Huge Difference In Others’ Lives
1. Donate things you no longer use
If you’re having money problems, trying to help others who are having the same issues can be difficult. Instead, donate things that you no longer need. There’s always going to be people who can use something that you don’t use. Getting rid of old clothes that you don’t wear, or that don’t fit you anymore, can really benefit people who can’t afford to go clothes shopping and need new things to wear and “You never know, it might make someone else feel great…” says Fee Gilfeather, Trading Head of Retail Brand for Oxfam.
You can also consider donating those cans of non-perishables that you thought you were going to eat, but ended up never using. Donating to a food bank means that people who can’t afford food will be able to get enough to eat. Don’t forget to donate sanitary items to food banks, too! Everyone could use a helping hand, and this is a great way to help people even if you have your own problems.
2. Make a monetary donation
If you don’t have money troubles, then making a monetary donation to a charity or foundation can really help those in need. Stopping to donate to your local homeless shelter, or women’s shelter, can make a huge difference in the lives of people who depend on those services. You can also donate to your local low-income health center for people who can’t afford insurance and depend on those types of places being funded so they can take care of their health and medical needs.
No donation is too small! What seems like very little to you can mean a lot when added up with all of the people who have donated, just like you. This is a great way to help people, even if a lot of your energy is taken up by your own problems. Charity Science Foundation of Canada states that monetary donation, “… gives us perspective of lives less privileged than our own and it nourishes our empathy. The sacrifice we make by leaving our comfort zone makes us truly feel like we’ve given something back. And most importantly, action gives us tangible results.”
3. Volunteer whenever you can
Even if you have your own problems, you may find that you have some extra time that could be put to good use. Volunteering for a local charity or organization can make a ton of difference in people’s lives. You could volunteer for your local food bank and help organize, move boxes, and give out food to the people who need it. Without people running those types of places, there would be no food bank to help the people in need.
Co-founder and CEO of MovingWorlds.org Mark Horoszowski once said, “I feel like we’ve stumbled on this incredibly obvious epiphany, when you give what you’re good at, you get better at it. You help others while helping yourself. The most important thing that people have is their brain, time, and passion. By giving all three, not only do people contribute their energy towards solving some of the world’s greatest challenges, but research shows they also return having learned new skills, feeling like they have more time, and feeling even more loved and passionate…”
So, even if you can’t donate food, you can always donate your time. Or, you could try volunteering at an animal sanctuary or the local humane society. While it’s not directly helping people, there are plenty of people looking for the perfect pet to help get them through tough times. And making sure those animals are happy and healthy is a way to make sure they get to their forever homes and change someone’s life.
4. Stop and help
How many times have we seen people pulled over on the side of the road, with their hazards blinking and driven right by them? Or seen someone in distress on the street and thought to ourselves, “Someone else will help.” It’s a pretty common thing, so don’t feel bad if you haven’t been able to take the time to stop and help. But, this is a good way to help others.
Not only does it help someone in need, but it makes you feel good, too, and gives you a boost through the rest of your day. Next time you see someone pulled over on the side of the road, assume that they need your help and pull over and offer it. If they have it under control, you’ll know that you did the right thing anyways!
5. Be friendly
Sometimes, when life overwhelms us and we’re caught up in our own problems, the only thing that we can do to help other people is to be friendly, and smile. Offer to lend an ear to a friend in distress and they’ll be able to offer the same to you. Smile at strangers and hold the door open for people behind you in line. Pay for the person’s coffee behind you in Starbucks – do whatever you have to do to put just a little bit of positive energy back into the world, especially when you’re stuck with your own overwhelming problems. Being positive and helpful is infectious, and soon all of the people around you will be doing positive, helpful things, too.
Helping others doesn’t always mean that you have to put your own life struggles on hold. When things are just a little too tough, helping people can actually be one of the best ways to de-stress and put your life back on track. The next time that things feel overwhelming, remember all of the little, helpful ways that you can still help others.