Ways to give back
Most people have busy lives between juggling work, family and general adult responsibilities so suddenly squeezing in time to give back to others may seem difficult. Yeah, doing things for our family might be a daily task but what about those real meaningful kind gestures or offering something to the wider world.
This may come as a surprise but giving back is also an element to improving our own wellbeing, all while being kind to others. It’s a win win right! Various research finds that acts of kindness improves health and general happiness as it activates the part of the brain associated with pleasure.
The good thing is that giving back can be achieved in so many ways so there’s something we can all do to start riding the kindness train. No matter how big or small of the act, it counts! So, don’t be put off by thinking it’s pointless – if we all do that little thing, it suddenly becomes a big change to the world (woah, got deep there).
Find your motivation in an area that interests you or something you feel particularly passionate about. For example, I’m particularly drawn into the effects of elderly age, loneliness and the impact on mental health. That’s mine – what’s yours?
Here’s some ideas to get you going:
Pay someone a compliment
See something you like or feel inspired by? Let that person know – it’s a simple idea but one that may brighten some one’s day. Have you ever had a kind thought but not actually expressed it for whatever reason from feeling stupid, not seeing the need or concerned about being vulnerable. Well, this is your chance to offer kindness to others.
Strike up a conversation
Make conversation with someone. We often awkwardly stand in a queue or in a lift with a fixed gaze, trying not to stand within touching distance or catch eye contact with someone. Why do we do that? We could just as easily start a mini conversation and perhaps offer engagement someone needs. Or maybe they don’t want to talk at all but a friendly touch is always better than a frosty one.
The warmth of a smile! A free simple gift that could be the little lift for someone having a crap day. We really take for granted the power of a smile – make a conscious effort to think how you feel when someone smiles at you and then offer that to others in return.
Buy a random gift
When I was a bit younger and owed my parents a few quid here or there, I remember my dad saying “don’t worry about it! If you see something you think we’ll like, just buy it as that means more”. Sometimes we gotta pay people back so I’m not suggesting to screw them over and buy a bag of sweets in return. But my dad had a point; by buying a random thoughtful gift it showed I appreciated what they had done for me and it hadn’t been forgotten. Something super simple like some one’s favourite flowers or tickets to a gig.
We don’t have to spend a load of cash to show people we care so what about making something? Fortunately, crafts is a massive thing now and there’s tons of inspiration online. Something quite effective can be made from old wood, stones, twigs and string – get creative!
If crafts is a no go, then think dinner party and make a scrumptious feast while getting together with others. Or make up a game to encourage fun and laughter.
Offer family & friends a helping hand
Next time you see family or friends struggling or juggling too much, ask yourself ‘how can I help?’. Would it be helpful to babysit to relieve some pressure or make a meal so they don’t have to worry about cooking. Maybe they just need a listening ear and the reassurance that you are there. Don’t push these people to the back of your mind; remember to check in on them and keep the door open.
Volunteer your time
Maybe you’ve got some time to volunteer! Again, this can be done in so many ways – in most areas there’ll be a volunteer agency to run through the process to find out which area you’d like to help in. Alternatively, there’s agencies online – they’ll explain what they do, the areas they cover and provide a list of voluntary opportunities. There are even opportunities to volunteer via phone, such as calls to elderly people that are experiencing loneliness – to find out more here’s the link to The Silver Line. The voluntary sector is vast from providing a driving service for vulnerable people to supporting those incarcerated to maintain family links. Check it out!
“How are you?”
Ask about people’s day; I’m talking real communication! Asking questions and listening – sounds obvious right but we’ve all been guilty of bad listening skills and it can make people feel crappy. I know the good listeners and bad listeners in my life and it’s always the good listeners that make me feel uplifted. With a bit of self-awareness and consistent practice we can all open up our communication skills to make someone else feel better. Get practising.
Raise money for charity
Raising money can be so much fun! We’ve all seen it – the groups in fancy dress; those brave enough to wax body parts, cake sales, exercise events and so much more. This is a brilliant way to bring people together and have fun whilst raising money for a good cause. It’s an idea that everyone can get involved with – if you like to exercise; great! Run for charity. Or if you like social evenings at the pub; excellent! Sell raffle tickets and charge entry fee for a local band. Think outside the box and raise some dosh.
Random acts of kindness
Can you recall some of the random acts of kindness you’ve heard about? Like helping someone that’s struggling to cross the road or painting pebbles with kind messages to hide for people to find. It can be a spontaneous act or a random idea but the aim is kindness. So next time an opportunity arises to be kind grab it.
So there we have it, 10 ways to give back to others but as I said, there’s many many more ways to express kindness. Pick your way to offer a helping hand.
Be the change you want to see in the world
– Mahatma Gandhi