I have found that life lessons seem to be more prominent to me as I travel. Possibly because I am not focused on day to day tasks, work, or rushing through life. As I rode on the back of a motorbike through Vietnam, I was greeted with huge smiles and waves of children welcoming me to their world. Families opened their homes and were so eager to show me their farms and crops that they took such pride in growing. They wanted me to learn about what they had been doing for generations in order to make a meager, but honest and pure, living. They offered me food and drinks and were so happy to share what they had with me.
I was struck with the generosity of the Vietnamese people everywhere I went. Which lead me to start thinking about what it meant to be generous. Isn’t generosity something we are taught as children – to share what we have? But as we grow into adults, I feel like we begin to become so selfish and focus solely on ourselves and we tend to forget the basic life lessons we grew up with. Being generous doesn’t always have to mean giving money – but giving your time and heart too.
There are so many organizations that are run by volunteers and there is a constant need for additional support. There are events and organizations that would not be in existence without volunteers. I realize we all have our own lives and busy schedules, but think about the impact you could make by giving up 2 hours on a Saturday and being a volunteer at a local event or for an organization that cannot function without your time. I guarantee that the feeling of contributing to a greater cause will beat the feeling of sleeping in for 2 extra hours. How many times have you volunteered this year?
Aside from volunteering, just be generous to those that need help. How many times have you gotten a call from a friend asking for help to move? It’s a job that no one enjoys, but as they say, “many hands make light work”. We all know how appreciative we are for the help. If someone needs a ride because their car is in the shop, help them. If friends are in a pinch and need a babysitter, offer. There are so many instances where we make excuses that we don’t have time, but if it is a priority to you, you will make time.
When asked to ‘donate’, I think people automatically think they need to give money. Let’s be honest, it is typically what most organizations and charities are looking for in order to fulfill their mission and keep the doors open. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of ways to donate your money. With websites like GoFundMe.com and the like, anyone can set up a fundraiser and solicit donations for a cause.
Pick a charity or organization that means something to you. You do not need to donate a large amount to make a difference. Five dollars goes a long way when multiple people donate. I realize that not everyone has extra money to spare, but if you do, the feeling of contributing to something bigger than you will leave you with the best feeling.
One thing I ask…donate your money to those that really need it. I am not a proponent of buying someone’s Starbucks drink in the drive thru. I’m sorry but, anyone that goes to Starbucks with the intent to purchase a $5+ drink doesn’t need it to be paid for. And if they do – their priorities are not straight.
Teach Our Children
I’ve have seen articles lately about why it is okay to teach children not to share. I have read these articles and to be honest, I think it is complete crap. I just cannot agree. It is now more important to teach our children to be selfish because life as an adult doesn’t work like this…which is their reasoning. Can we not teach our children about sharing AND compromise? Our society is becoming so focused on thinking about only ones self and pure self-preservation. It is really sad if this is what our world is coming to.
I feel as though we should be teaching our children to be generous and what it means to give their time. Kids these days are involved in every activity under the sun outside of school…sports, music, camps, etc. so they can figure out what they enjoy. I believe this is important for children, but can we not include time where they learn the importance of giving to others and donating their time? There are plenty of events and organizations that would welcome children to volunteer. Take them with you to help hand out water to runners in a local race or to visit a local nursing home. These are lessons that aren’t taught in a classroom.
Teach them about helping others – through donating toys to those in need, selling lemonade to donate money to help a friend that is sick. Maybe instead of asking for birthdays gifts this year, ask friends to bring an item that can be donated to their favorite charity. Local animal shelters and most charities always have “wish lists” of items that they need on a daily basis. Teaching generosity and compassion shouldn’t be forgotten when raising our next generation. Remember, these will be the people running our country one day.
So my advice to you is be as generous as you are able. I am a big believer in karma and if you give freely without expecting anything in return, good will come to you when you need it too. Let us not evolve (even further) into a society that is selfish and focused solely on ourselves. I am certain that no one on their deathbeds has ever regretted the good deeds they had done for those that truly needed the help. Be generous.
Photo Credit #2 : www.truist.com