There are two things in the world that are perhaps the most inspiring and fulfilling of all, and those things are volunteer work and travel. Both are good for the soul. Both help shape our world views. Both may toss us in situations that are slightly beyond our comfort zone, but in the best way possible – in the way that enacts change within ourselves. Both provide a channel for finding common ground with people who may not share the same culture or background. They may be in a different class bracket, be years removed from our own age, or of a different religion or orientation, and simple interaction opens our eyes in ways we couldn’t have dreamed possible.
Volunteering at a homeless shelter, for example, is the quickest way to realize that the majority of homeless are not lazy, as is often the perception. Some suffer from disabilities which prevent them from finding quality work. Others are single mothers who are taking college courses to better their chances of establishing a career that can support their children.
Volunteering in a nursing home is the quickest way to realize that the elderly aren’t cranky and boring. On the contrary, most are delighted to have visitors, and many have incredible stories to tell. They just want someone to listen, and it doesn’t take long to realize that the only thing you need to do to make their day is to simply lend an ear.
Whereas volunteer work is more about bringing happiness to others, travel is often the tool that brings the most joy to self. At least this is true in my case. And in life, it’s pretty darn important to make ourselves happy, too. After all, I’m stuck with me for the rest of my life, and being stuck with someone miserable wouldn’t be any fun.
I recently read an article called “Why You Should Spend Your Money on Experiences, Not Things”, and it spoke to me on a profound level. The sentiment of the article is that material objects quickly lose their shine and appeal, whereas your experiences – through avenues such as travel and volunteerism, for starters – provide longer-lasting happiness, because they help shape your identity. They make you who you are. A car doesn’t define you. What you’ve done with your life for the last 30 years, does.
The people you’ve met, the places you’ve seen, the events you witnessed – these are all what make you, you. And the more experiences you collect along the way, the more of a well-rounded person you become. The type of person who can whip out a story to relate to just about anything. A situational jack-of-all-trades, who likely possesses a much more thorough understanding of this crazy world we live in. An understanding which bleeds into all aspects of our lives. Whether it’s through our relationships with others, our view of ourselves, or even through our writing.
My wish for my readers is that this post prompts you to go out and get inspired. Talk to someone you wouldn’t normally interact with, listen to their story. Go somewhere you haven’t been, even if it’s just a new restaurant. Reach beyond your comfort zone. You’ll be surprised at what you find.
Happy Inspiration Monday!
Until Next Time,