Go ahead and ask, “What’s in it for me?” You may cringe when you read that. I know a lot of people feel like they’re currently surrounded by selfishness. But I really want to explore the opposite: What’s in it for me when I give my time to help someone else?
My timing may seem off to you. Most of us are struggling just to get through the craziness of 2020. But sometimes the best way to get past a struggle is to help someone else. I’m not suggesting that you leave your home or take more risks of exposure to COVID-19. There are many ways to contribute from where you sit.
When you feel bored, anxious, or worried, changing focus can work wonders. But it can be hard to think of a constructive way to use your time when you’re stuck at home with nothing on the agenda. So, let’s go back to the question at hand, “What’s in it for me?”
I’ve fallen into some really great opportunities to volunteer by attending a training, workshop, or lecture. I go for the intellectual stimulation, but I stay because I find a place I feel I can make a difference. This year, I’ve discovered I can actually attend more events because there’s no travel involved and fees have been lowered.
You don’t have to be passionate about any particular cause to make a difference. Perhaps your talent is making connections. You may be able to help a friend or associate find a new job by putting them into contact with people you know. You may be the perfect person to solicit committee members, put together a task force, or provide resources for a newcomer. You could end up introducing someone to a new partner. The right introduction can change a life.
If you’re a good communicator, you may want to write letters to teens residing in behavioral health hospitals. With COVID limiting visitors, children can use extra comforting words. Our nursing home residents and prisoners can also use extra comfort this year. Words are powerful. They can provide distraction and inspiration.
And let’s not forget healthcare workers. I have a handful of doctors I email or text on a regular basis to let them know I appreciate them. In spite of their added burdens, they often respond with encouraging messages for me. These are incredible people! And although it is not my intent for them to feel obligated to respond, there’s a lot of gratitude and reassurance available for me to absorb.
If you’re crafty, you can knit caps for newborns, sew masks for hospital visitors, or create Christmas stockings for teachers and fill them with supplies. This Christmas, I’m planning to fill stockings with holiday treats for my neighbors and leave them on their porches. I did this for Easter and the 4th of July. It’s a tiny thing to do, but brightening their day brightens mine.
And that’s the point. If you feel there’s something missing from your life, try giving that something to someone else. I’m not saying to do this in place of self-care, but as a form of self-care. We often think of giving as a tiring obligation, until we try it. Once you start using your time to create joy or comfort for someone else, you’ll be amazed how it will fill your heart and bring you joy as well.
There you have it. That’s what’s in it for me.