New Year’s resolutions are often focused on yourself, and that’s okay. We all need goals and plans to live a better life. But we’ve been inspired by one of the habits listed in a piece regarding the Blue Zones that rounds up 20 habits for a healthier and happier life.
What are the Blue Zones? They’re parts of the world where cultures live the longest, are happiest, and have a high quality of life. One particular habit common in these communities is volunteering. Research has found that people who volunteer and do good in their community tend to lose weight, have lower rates of heart disease, and report higher levels of happiness.
This is all great to know, but how do you start out spreading goodness through volunteer work? Especially in South Africa, the number of charities or organisations that could benefit from your time can seem overwhelming, so here are some tips on how to get started:
- Consider your motivations
Think about what’s motivating you to help others. Is it a real desire to bring about change? Is it to make you feel more positive about the country or your life? Is it guilt? Are you lonely or bored? None of these should stop you getting involved, but knowing where the motivation is coming from can help you see the best way forward and can influence the particular way you become involved.
- What are you passionate about?
You’re far more likely to persist at doing good if it’s something you’re passionate about. And working with an organisation for the long haul is one of the best ways to pass on the most benefit. Think about where your skills or interests lie. Are you mad about animals? Passionate about reading or literacy? Professionally skilled in counselling or training? Find an organisation that fits with these passions or interests.
- Make small contributions where you can
It doesn’t have to be a weekly commitment: you can start small. Clean out your clothes or your children’s toys and donate what you no longer use, and then offer to do the same with any excess things belonging to friends or family. Make a small monetary contribution to a children’s home (if you can afford it), knowing that even though it’s small, it’s making a difference in someone’s life.
Look out for ways to give in the supermarket while you’re shopping, whether it’s a trolley of groceries being collected for shelters, or ideas like Clover Krush’s #KrushGoodness project whereby when you choose any Krush product, you’re also spreading goodness and playing your part in ensuring that 20 000 scholars in communities across South Africa receive a brand new pair of school shoes to better equip them for the school year ahead.
- Make it convenient
Life is busy and you’ll be far more likely to be consistent if you set up a time or place that fits in with your schedule. Maybe you work nine to five and simply can’t volunteer every week. That’s fine, but speak to your HR department and try and get time during work hours where you can give of your time in the name of the company, along with your colleagues. Many companies have CSI budgets they have to spend each year, so you could try and channel some of this budget into a volunteer project you’re passionate about.
Not only will doing good start to improve your small corner of the world, it will also have mental and physical health benefits for yourself – so let’s get started!