For many of us, the end of the year often begets much reflection on the previous twelve months. Did the year fare as I intended? Did I accomplish all of my goals? Am I happy?
In the past few weeks, I’ve frequently seen posts on various social media platforms along the lines of how people can’t wait to see the end of 2017. Granted, you may have truly had an unpleasant year, but chances are your perspective is what’s keeping you from being happy and content with how the year turned out.
As 2017 comes to a close, you may be thinking about ways to ensure 2018 turns out better than this year. Perhaps you’re contemplating a job change or splurging on buying a new car. You may also be thinking about tackling a resolution for the new year. After all, what better way to help guarantee a better year and a happier you than by resolving to adhere to good habits in lieu of bad ones. From exercising more to eating healthier, there are many common resolutions you may have already considered. Although self-care is of the utmost importance (your health should always be a priority!), you may also find joy in putting “helping others” at the top of next year’s to-do list.
In 2018, let’s make it a point to have a grateful perspective on life. Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, let’s commit to helping those who have far less. Not only will you be able to relish in the fact that you’ve greatly improved someone else’s life, you’ll also be far more content with your own. Here are three simple resolutions you can make to help others in the new year!
- Volunteer More of Your Time: There are numerous ways you can spend your time in a way that helps others. Hospices, after-school programs for at-risk youths, and food pantries are all great places to start! Just be sure you set a reasonable goal for how much time you’d like to spend volunteering each month.
- Make a Monthly Monetary Donation: If you’re in a position to donate money, giving to a worthy cause is a wonderful way to help those in need. Even if you don’t have much to give (every little bit helps!), you can still pick your favorite charity to donate to each month. If you don’t have a favorite or are unsure of which organizations you should give to, Charity Navigator is a terrific third-party site that rates charities based on three criteria: their financial health, their level of accountability, and how transparent they are. Pick a charity (or two, or three!) to give to for the duration of 2018, or pick a different charity to give to each month. You can even get your friends and family involved!
- Donate What You Don’t Use: Let’s face it, we all have something in our closets we don’t want — let alone need. The same goes for excess food stored in our pantries and cupboard shelves. At the end of every month, try setting aside gently used clothing or unused food items to donate. Regardless of where you live, there are numerous nonprofit organizations you can give your items to. If you’re unsure of where to donate, rescue missions, churches, and soup kitchens are always a good place to give.
As if you needed any more reason to get out and help those in need, resolving to do any of these three acts of giving may help you kick-start your other New Year’s resolutions. Whether you’re wanting better health, to be in better shape, or to be content with your life, giving to others can certainly help you achieve all of these things. Multiple studies have shown that the act of giving and helping others can greatly reduce stress and lower blood pressure, thus causing improvements in overall physical health and aiding in greater longevity. Michael Norton, a Harvard Business School professor, and two of his colleagues also found that giving money to others can elicit strong feelings of happiness. By donating your time, energy, and money to others, you’re practicing selflessness and kindness. The ensuing feelings of gratitude and contentment will afford you peace of mind and a stronger sense of optimism about your life and the world around you.
Have you made any resolutions about helping others?
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