Last week I used this quote “The world is changed by your example, not your opinion” (link here) and talked about how you could change your world. Today I want to talk about this quote again, and again think about how you change your world, as well as changing the wider world for the better.
The wonderful people at Action for happiness did some research and were able to look at the scientific evidence for what makes us happier. What they found is on their website. But in keeping with this quote I wanted to talk about two aspects of life which we now know make a positive difference to our well being. These are ‘do things for others’ or GIVE and ‘be a part of something bigger’ or MEANING. It’s now clear that going outside of ourselves and doing things for others or with others really can make a difference to us. We know that it makes stronger connections between people and it works towards a society where everyone is happier – which benefits us all. This isn’t easy. Having the time, the energy, the commitment, the enthusiasm, the will are all barriers. But we know from last week’s blog that doing things makes us happier even if we didn’t really want to at the start, or felt very nervous about doing it.
I’m keen this doesn’t just become yet another stick to beat yourself with. There’s enough pressure to get all the various bits of work/jobs/applications done and be in the right places and on the right platforms and all that. This isn’t the same. Doing things that change the world doesn’t need to be big or loud or a burden. It might be a small thing that fits the small amount of time you have available. There are online projects you can offer to help with, or seasonal ones (like work in homeless centres at Christmas) which match your holidays. There are half an hour a week commitments like reading in a child’s school and many hours a week like volunteering to become a Samaritan.
And being part of something bigger, might be volunteering to help in a large homeless centre but equally might be being part of a choir or a sports team or being one of the parents who drives the sports team to their matches or getting involved in climate change work or writing to your MP. The important thing in all of this is that it can benefit you at least as much as it might benefit others. It’s not selfish to want to look after yourself – and after all if you don’t look after yourself then you’ll not be in a state do offer anything outwards. But don’t let apathy or lethargy mean you let yourself down, when you could be taking up the option to do something which changes you for the better and changes the world.