Scientifically proven, good deeds have a positive impact on our health. Doing good doesn't only make us feel happier, it reduces stress, improves mental health, and is said to increase our overall lifespan.
So why are we not engaging in causes more often?
I get it, our lives are busy, and sometimes money is limited, and it's difficult to spend from an empty pocket. But doing good doesn't always mean donating to charities or building schools in Africa. Good deeds start with kindness, attention and caring. Giving a smile to a stranger on the bus, helping your elderly neighbour carrying the grocery bags up the stairs, giving some water and food to the stray cats in your area or picking up some trash lying on the streets. Good Deeds involve everything that makes our lives a little better, no matter if you do them towards other humans, towards animals or mother nature.
So what is the cause you resonate most with and how can you find out if you are not sure about it?
1. Contemplate a bit on when you feel best. Is it the interaction with others that makes you happy? Is your heart jumping a little when the neighbour's puppy greets you with a wagging tail? Are kids magically attracted by you or do you feel particularly at peace once you're out in nature? Whatever makes you connect to your true self, that's your element.
2. Reflect on what your good at. What are your talents others might benefit from? Are you good with animals? Do you feel compassion towards elderly or disadvantaged people? Do you have a love for cooking or nourishing others?
No matter what it is, your talent can benefit others in need. To give you some ideas how you can use your passion to be of service to others, I gathered 11 different initiatives you can engage in without spending a lot of time or money:
1. Walking dogs
Animal shelters are usually overcrowded and understaffed. So if you like to be out in nature and are good with animals, take a pup on your next stroll and do something for your own and the animal's wellbeing.
Shelters usually help in giving information on how to engage with a dog in case you are not experienced, so give it a try on your next walk in the park and maybe get a new best friend.
2. Volunteer in a homeless shelter.
Many people faced tragic circumstances in their lives and lost everything they owned. Being rock bottom, they often have no other place to stay than on the streets. Being excluded from their community, and without a job or home, it is tough to find way back in life. Show them that they are not forgotten and support shelters in their efforts to care for the underprivileged in our society. Be it cooking, handing out food, donating clothes or offering grooming services, every help will be much appreciated.
3. Clean your community.
Our world has reached a sad record in plastic pollution, and this un-degradable waste is not only toxic to the environment but also to ourselves. Spend a couple of hours cleaning up your local park, beach or kids playgrounds. There is no such initiative planned in your city? Then take the bull by the horns and initiate one yourself, engage your fellow citizens and enjoy a more clean and safe environment to live in.
4. Spend a day in an elderly home and give some time and company.
Many elderly people are spending their last years in loneliness and boredom without having families to take care of them. Being left alone in a home that is not their own and without familiar faces around them, they often feel abandoned and lost. If you have a good sense of compassion and care, check with an elderly home near you who of the residents are getting rarely or no visits at all and give some company in reading or conversation.
5. Donate blood
A relatively simple but significant form of support is donating blood. If you are not facing any health issues or diseases, you should be fit for giving some of your blood to people facing life-threatening conditions through accidents or other incidents. Check the donation schedule in your local community and help save lives.
Especially single moms are facing extreme conditions in some countries where sufficient daycare for their little ones is not available. Having to care for your baby all by yourself is an enormous task in itself. Having to raise a child while sustaining life is sometimes close to impossible and often results in poverty and dependence on governmental aid. So if you have time and love kids, help those single mums to retain their lives for themselves and their little ones.
7. Coach kids
If you are a sports enthusiast and enjoy spending times with kids, engage in some sports clubs and offer to train football, athletics or other sports on a volunteer basis. Many schools and clubs have only limited funds and coaches engaging the kids in sports activities are rare.
8. Donate your unused clothes to charity.
We all have those pair of jeans we used to fit in, this pullover we got for our birthday but never wore it or our kid's clothes that don't fit anymore. If it makes you feel bad to throw them, what about donating them to charity? Feels much better, right? So go through your closet, get out the possessions you haven't used for over a year and donate them to a good cause. If it's a children's home, a homeless shelter or a refugee camp, your precious items will find a thankful new owner.
9. Help elderly people with household chores.
You don't always have to look far to do a good deed, sometimes opportunities are in close vicinity. Helping elderly citizens in your neighbourhood or community doing the groceries, mowing the lawn or doing maintenance work in their homes will not only help them in their daily life but also make them feel integrated and appreciated despite their age.
10. Engage your colleagues in recycling and energy saving.
Act as an ambassador of a good cause and engage your colleagues in various environmentally caring initiatives. From recycling paper, switching off lights and air conditioning when leaving the rooms to bringing reusable water bottles and installing dispensers rather than using plastic bottles, there are numerous ways of making a difference as a group of like-minded people.
11. Buy a drink or dish for a person in need.
Several restaurants and cafes offer the possibility of buying an extra item for a person in need. So next time you are enjoying a coffee with a friend, get a second one that can be used by a person, who otherwise, would not be able to afford it. Your favourite coffee shop doesn't offer such initiative, yet? Encourage them to join you in your efforts to do good.
These are just some of the many ways you can help on a daily basis. Whatever it is that you love to do, your talents and passions can be even more valuable by using them for a good cause.
As Richelle E. Goodrich in her book "Smile Anyway" states:
“Every sunrise is an invitation for us to arise and brighten someone's day.”
So what's your good deed this week? I'd love to hear from you!