In our swagalicious swag bags from SoFabCon, we received an Inspirational Dayspring Daybrightener calendar that I love. Each day provides a quote that touches me in some way. On May 18, this quote struck a major chord with me:
I go out of my way to do kind things for people, or ask if they need a helping hand. I am saddened to find that I am in the minority. In a world where people are struggling emotionally to live fulfilled lives, people don’t realize how easy it actually is to enrich your own life.
Have you ever been so down or so lonely that you didn’t know where to find your happiness? Have you ever sat in your living room with your spouse and marveled at the fact that you hadn’t been on a date in eons and couldn’t afford a baby sitter? Have you ever felt like you were just destined to live a boring, solitary life?
Stop blaming other people for your rain cloud, Eeyore!
The direction your life takes is entirely in your hands, and I’m here to share with you the most simple ways to enrich your own life.
It starts with being a good friend, a good neighbor. In this busy electronically-driven world we now live in, the gift of making someone a batch of cookies or picking up a 6-pack of beer and taking it to their house when they are new to the neighborhood is nearly non-existent. I’ve moved a lot the past ten years and only once did someone come to introduce themselves. That person ended up being a great friend and someone I could rely on for nearly everything.
People are so engrossed in their own lives that they don’t even spend half of a second thinking about helping other people out when they need it. They certainly don’t want to put themselves out to help someone either. So they continue on in their lives wondering why they have no friends, why they have nobody to help them with their children, or why nobody offers to help them when they get sick.
Be a good friend. We are lucky to have outlets like Facebook where people can share their lives. Back in November, all five of us came down with the stomach flu within hours of one another. We ran out of diapers pretty quickly and we had to beggar people to drop diapers off for us. We weren’t asking for visits. We simply needed someone to go to the store for us and drop diapers off on our doorstep then run lest they also catch the nasty bug.
We shouldn’t have had to do that.
1. Sick Friends and Family
I posted on Facebook that we had the stomach flu. My friends in Savannah said that if they were in town they would gladly drop stuff off for us. Unfortunately, we are now 5 hours away from Savannah so that really did us no good. If you notice that a friend is ill, offer to take her kids for a couple of hours, to pick up some medicine or food, or simply ask what it is that s/he needs. They may be resistant to help, but offer anyways. You might even gather some things in a little “get well bag” to make them feel better and drop it off on their doorstep without warning. You would want someone to do the same for you, and if your friend does take you up on your offer, I promise it will make you feel like a flying superhero in a cape.
2. Needy Families
When I was a single mom, my ex was extremely sporadic with child support. He didn’t work a normal job, if he worked at all, so I couldn’t rely on the state to catch up with him and pull money out of his paycheck. In five years he probably paid 12 months worth of child support, and rarely a full payment. Oftentimes I didn’t know where our next meal would come from. I worked two jobs to make ends meet and sometimes it was all I could do to keep a roof over our heads, pay the daycare bill, and keep a vehicle to get to and from work with.
Every time I began really getting worried about having to visit the food bank, my neighbor, a sweet middle-aged woman named Paula, would bring bags of groceries that she had gotten at a BOGO sale at Winn-Dixie. I never discussed my financial situation with her but she knew that I was a single mom who worked hard for what little she had. Those gifts saved us many times. You might not know someone’s exact financial situation, but if you know a family who struggles, you can find little ways to help them out. One meal a week could open their budget so that they can put gas in their car or buy their kids a new pair of shoes. If you encounter a BOGO sale at your local grocery store, buy what you need for yourself and provide that family with the “free” items. It will surely be another superhero moment in your life, and if you make a habit of it, I guarantee you that you will notice your life becoming more sun-shiny and bright.
3. Struggling Families Deserve Fun Too!
When you work to live, life gets rough. Even when I was at my lowest financial point, I took Styles on a “date” every Sunday. If I had no money, we would take a picnic to a local lake and feed the birds. If I had a few extra dollars, we would go see a movie with smuggled candy in my purse.
One day I wrote the local radio station for a feature they had where they played your 3 favorite songs. They would tell a little blurb about you then play your songs. I included that I was a single mom and that my favorite moments were spent with my young son on our Sunday date days. An angel named Jo Ann (Joey) heard my spot and called the radio station offering to send Styles and me to Disney for a day. She was a Disney employee so she could get us in for free. When we met with her, she surprised us with $100 Disney Dollars. She got us in to Disney a few other times, and she’s still one of my Facebook friends with whom I keep up with on a regular basis.
I’m not saying you have to spend money on people. She could have easily just let us in to Disney at no cost to her and it would have enriched us both. She took it a step further, and while it cost her money, I know that blessing us like that also blessed her own life. Do what you can to bless other people. If you have a spa gift card you know you will never use, give it to a stressed out stay at home mom. If you have movie passes that you know you will never use, give them to a family who is down on their luck. Instead of saying, “some day . . .” think about other people in their “now”.
4. Think Not of Yourself
We get so wrapped up thinking of only ourselves that we forget to be good friends and neighbors. Our selfishness sends us into a maze of looking for the next thrill or larger pile of money. We look for things to fulfill us and we forget that what truly makes us happy is seeing other people happy, giving of ourselves, and doing kind things for others. It doesn’t have to cost a penny to do nice things for someone else. Even if you are down on your luck, finding something kind to do for others with what you DO have will bless and enrich your own life.
Stop looking for ways to make yourself happy and start thinking of others. When you do that, you will find that people are more likely to return the favor, you will find more meaningful relationships with people, and your own life will be enriched.