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6 Simple Steps to Serving Your Community
Why should we focus on serving others?
Serving others is a way to have a meaningful impact on the lives of others. It can also boost your internal happiness! Serving your local community can directly impact the lives of people around you. Things like improving their living environment, or furthering local projects through financial support help people close to you. Sometimes helping others feels like something extra that is a little bonus just for our ego. But, we often fail to remember how many times we have been helped by those around us. Maybe it was our partner, a friend, or a neighbour. We are all interconnected.
We often owe a lot of our success in life to those around us, and taking time to recognise that we are social beings, who oftentimes depend on and need others, can help us appreciate the importance of serving others and giving something back. Acknowledging that we benefit from those around us can help motivate us to maintain the mutually beneficial relationship that comes with being social beings often living in different types of communities.
How will serving others benefit me?
Serving others also has direct benefits for you individually. It might be a little selfish to frame all your serving efforts on the personal benefits you can gain. But, it is okay to feel good when helping others! Helping others strengthens our social ties, especially if they are real-life, physical social connections. Something that is extra important given the disconnected virtual surface-level connections we are used to. We can gain a sense of community, purpose and belonging by sharing things with others like our wealth, our time or our joy.
You may also personally benefit from community projects like clean-ups, or improvements to local services or environments. This feel-good feeling you get after doing something meaningful, especially if it’s difficult or laborious, isn’t to be shamed. If you’re doing good with the honest intentions of making a difference, it’s okay to feel it!
How can I serve others?
1. Offer your financial services
If you can, share your financial wealth with others. An easy way to do this is by setting up a direct debit to a particular charity or organisation you care about. You can also make a one-off donation. Even if it is small, and you feel that it won’t make a difference. A little amount from several people can make a big change in the lives of others.
If you cannot give your money specifically, see if you can help the organisation you would otherwise donate to through your skills. Maybe they have an ugly, outdated website that you know you could update to help bring them more publicity. Or, maybe you’re an excellent campaigner and you have great people skills, which would help them make more connections?
Also, consider if you can donate wealth in non-financial terms. Whether that be some supplies and essentials for your local food bank. A tip here is to check their website where they list what they are looking for specifically, so you know the food won’t be unwanted. Or, donate good quality physical items you no longer need – an added benefit will be that you will clear up your own space
2. Offer your time
As mentioned above, if you cannot give your money, you can give your time and energy to help. Many areas have local litter picks, but you can of course independently clean up your local area. You can also volunteer and provide leadership and support for local events and organisations. Remember, your time and energy are your most valuable resource so don’t feel that they aren’t as useful as your finances!
3. Bring your friends
Doing good things for others with others is especially powerful. Volunteering with your partner, friends or family means the impact of your work is likely to be greater than if you were volunteering alone. It also helps you hold each other accountable, and commit to the work you’ve chosen to do. The benefits and joys of volunteering can be shared with others too, and it can help you strengthen your social relationships.
4. Be careful with your consumption
You are a human on planet Earth. Even if you only feel that your world is as big as the street you live on. Being mindful of your environmental impact is important to not create problems for the immediate population and generations to come. The easiest and most direct way to do this is to consume as little as possible and to change your consumption habits. Approaching life from a minimalist perspective is key to avoiding the negative effects of overconsumption and consumerism that our society is heavily associated with. So make sure you do your recycling!
5. Go on a self-development journey
Going on a self-development journey sometimes feels like a very individualistic thing to do. But, working on yourself so that you are your best, most optimised self does benefit others. When you make sure you are your best self, the people around you will benefit. Being your most patient, most loving self means that people you interact with are meeting the best version of you too. Lead by example and keep working on becoming your best self.
6. Remember your immediate community
It can be easy to think of your ‘community’ when thinking about serving others as a set group of people who maybe live near you. Or, maybe they are the people you work with or look like. But remember, your community is everyone. Even the people you don’t necessarily associate with, or want to build a relationship with.
It is this area of your community that is the most powerful. The people you don’t necessarily feel that close with, or connected to, can benefit the most from your service. The grumpy elderly neighbour down the street, or your least favourite colleague. Building a meaningful relationship and positive community atmosphere in these areas is a very effective thing to do.
When should I start?
Serving your community can be as big or as small a part of your life as you choose to make it. Searching online and checking out local community spaces to see what you can do is a great way to begin. Don’t be afraid to start small though. Starting a friendly conversation might just be the boost you need to become an involved and beneficial community member. The key is to start now, in whatever way you can.