Today marks the beginning of a new series that I call "Thoughtfulness Thursday" in which I will discuss some ways that we can cultivate more thoughtfulness in our lives. It's easy to become disconnected on this large, organic rock floating through space, but the quicker we realize that being thoughtful enhances our quality of life, the easier our lives become. Today I want to talk about volunteering and how it cultivates appreciation.
Volunteering is a favorite pastime of mine. I've loved to volunteer since I was a young man in high school. At that time, I volunteered for a battered women's shelter in my hometown. I didn't actually interact with the women there, but I did help out with some housekeeping things like taking out trash, replacing light bulbs, fixing things around the place, etc. From there I volunteered more in undergrad with various clean up events around the Augusta area that were associated with Augusta State University. I continued to volunteer into my graduate studies working with different schools on STEM related opportunities. I even designed my own workshop for elementary students and their parents to do science experiments at home with each other in order to reinforce the day's lessons.
Every time I participated in one of these events, I had such an immense feeling of appreciation.
I'm sure that appreciation came from the fact that I was either using my physical or mental skills to enhance my community. The great secret to living a fulfilled life is to give to others from a place of fullness. Every time I was able to give something to someone else from an authentic place, the appreciation that came from them made me want to do more. The interesting thing as well is that I just appreciated the opportunity to be able to share my gifts in that way. It also made me appreciate the kind of life I had crafted for myself.
When you get to see how other people live, it makes you reassess your own life. This could be a positive or negative thing. Taking a positive approach makes you appreciative for the things that you do have that others may not. When you're appreciative of the things you already have, more of the same flows into your life. The feedback loop that you create by volunteering for appreciation enhances your life significantly, thus further enhancing the lives of the people that you volunteer for. Acts of service are a critical indicator of your value as a human being and what you contribute to life on this planet.
The world is a better place when we cooperate with each other. When we're able to share our gifts freely to others, we begin to create an atmosphere of appreciation that everyone benefits from. Within this we can find and nurture our life's purpose and truly feel alive as human beings, not human doings.