How often do you actually go out of your way to help others?
It's obviously a powerful habit. Helping others can change the lives of those you help while adding meaning and depth to your own life.
It's a win-win that's dead simple in theory.
We know that any kind gesture—no matter how seemingly trivial, from smiling at a stranger to listening to a friend—adds a little bit of positivity to the world. And we know that if we all did our best to help others, the cumulative effect of our small actions would create a different world from the one we live in today.
Unfortunately, simple ≠ easy. Even though we know these ideas to be true we don't often act on them.
Why? Why do we frequently skip doing nice things that can add so much value at no cost to us?
One possible explanation is that ego helping others feel difficult even if it's not. Helping others often requires us to go out on a limb, to let people see how much we really care, to open ourselves to the possibility of rejection, which threatens our sense of security. When our security is threatened, we don't do new things and we don't do things for others, instead we focus on ourselves.
Fortunately, once you recognize what's getting in the way, you can break down the barriers and start to making helping others a habit.
Here are the mental tricks that help me to the right thing more often, and a few ideas on how you can start helping others today.
Automate Your Impact
Giving to charity is a great way to help those in need.
What's even better? Putting your giving on auto-pilot, so it happens automatically every month. That way, you can't forget and don't have the chance to come up with an excuse (like I did for years).
Many nonprofits, like charity: water offer a way to donate on an automatic, monthly basis.
To make an even bigger impact every month, you might try CharityX. CharityX helps you make your impact, grow it and track it, all in one place. In a matter of months you could be making an impact beyond what you ever thought possible.
Be the First
Someone has to go first.
Someone has to be the first to smile. To say hello. To give. To do the right thing. To help.
If you've read this far it means you care. Caring is essential but it's the easy—well, easier—part. The hard part is taking action. Taking action is hard because that's when we open ourselves up to the possibility of rejection.
What if they don't say hi back?
What if I startle the homeless person?
What if someone I know sees that I care?
But if you face your fear and take action, you unlock one of the keys to deeper hapiness. And once you experience a taste of this happiness, it makes it easier to take action the next time.
This is the first and most important you need to know about helping others: it's worth it, no matter how big or small the gesture.
But you have to lead the way.
Don't Tell Anyone
To me, helping others is a deeply personal choice.
It's about doing the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do. It's about growth, and connection, and feeling, and love.
It's definitely not about showing off on Facebook or even telling your friends. In fact, I seem to get a lot more out of helping when I don't tell anyone at all.
Watch this video and you'll see what I mean.
Think Before You Buy
One of the most exciting trends in giving is the influx of social-impact businesses, popularized by Tom's Shoes and others using the one-for-one model.
Today, you can buy almost any product and contribute to a great cause at the same time. Like:
- Socks: Subscribe to Sock Panda and provide a pair of socks to someone in need every month.
- Gifts: Give a That's Caring gift and provide a weekend meal for a hungry child.
- Soap: Get your soap from SoapBox Soaps and provide soap to communities in need.
Do the Right Thing
Not sure how to start helping others? Start by doing the right thing every chance you get; it almost always benefits others. And chances to do the right thing appear many times a day.
Do I pick up that litter? But it's not mine!
Denise looks sad today, maybe I should say hi to her.
Another 5k for charity? But I've already donated to five of these this year.
Doing the right thing might take a little more effort, but it is always worth it.
What to Do Now
Be the first!
A habit starts with one decision, and one action, so take action today. Do something nice for someone or start giving to charity. Remember, any time you're doing the right thing, you're helping others. No gesture is too small; everything matters. Take this quote about helping others from Winston Churchill with you:
“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”
And thank you for reading my post.
About: The Northern Illinois Food Bank (NIFB) leads its community in solving hunger by providing nutritious meals to those in need through innovative programs and partnerships. Started in 1983 with the idea to feed the community, they have thrived ever since, feeding 71,000 people in 13 counties through their 800 partners as of last year. Remarkably, they’ve figured out how to stretch a $1 donation to purchase $8 worth of groceries. Their fight to end hunger is rooted in being a helping hand for their neighborhood.
Backpack Program: NIFB has a backpack program that helps to put backpacks full of nutritious meals into the hands of children every Friday for a weekend of meals.
Education: By hosting multiple events, from the Foodie 5K to A Taste That Matters, Culinary event, the NIFB brings awareness to the importance of finding different ways to end hunger. The NIFB also partner’s with local senior housing units to provide monthly meals while keeping dietary needs in mind through the Senior Food Program.
More about our impact with the Northern Illinois Food Bank.
About: The Capital Area Food Bank creates access to good, healthy food for people in the Washington D.C. area. They believe that nutritious food is a basic human right, and they are critical to the health and wellbeing of their community members, distributing over 35 million meals a year.
Backpack Program: With over 200,000 teens and kids at risk of hunger in the Washington D.C. area, Capital Area Food Bank provides weekend meals for youth by working with 64 schools and churches. On a daily basis, the Kids Café allows free, healthy meals for youth daily afterschool at 90 different locations. During the summer months, an old converted school bus supplies over 300 meals Monday through Friday.
Education: Capital Area Food Bank goes beyond just supplying healthy food to those in need. They also work to educate through nine different programs including Cooking Matters and their own unique program, Face Hunger.
More about our impact with the Capital Area Food Bank.
About: Since their start in 1992, the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia (FBNG) has made over 79 million meals, committed to their mission of alleviating poverty and helping the hungry. In 2013 alone, they made 9 million meals, thanks to their supportive community and absolute dedication to the cause.
Backpack Program: The FBNG found that school wasn’t just for learning for the youth in the community, for some it was kids only source of food. They created a program called Food 2 Kids to alleviate the worry about food on nights and weekends. Students go home with a bag of snacks and meals that require no cooking and nutritious. This is the only program at FBNG that relies on monetary donations as food is purchased to ensure food is nutritional, child friendly, and balanced to support growing children.
Education: The FBNG helps to bring awareness through different events along with volunteer opportunities. They offer the community to old their own food drives and compete in fun competitions such as the Hunger Bowl.
More about our impact with the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia.
About: For over 38 years, Gleaners Food Bank of Southern Michigan has been focused on the entire community of southeast Michigan to help end hunger by providing nutritional , high quality food to its clients. GFBSM partners with Citizens Bank, who matches every donated dollar the food bank receives. This is a major contribution as GFBSM purchased 38% of the food they give to the hungry.
Backpack Program: The GFBSM has a backpack program that provides nutritious bags of food for local students who are on free or reduced lunch and who would otherwise not have food for the weekend. They also have a program called Smartbites, which provides schools with nutritious snacks for teachers to pass out to students who may be hungry throughout the school day or in afterschool tutoring programs.
Education: In 2013, Gleaners adopted a three-year strategy to continue the reduction of hunger in southeast Michigan by promoting self-sufficiency through education and access. They’ve come to the realization that hunger cannot be solved simply by feeding the hungry, but by educating people in budgeting, cooking and taking advantage of resources.
More about our impact with the Gleaners Food Bank of Southern Michigan.
About: The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank mobilizes resources to fight hunger, and they strive for their vision of no person going hungry in Los Angeles County. Over the last 40 years, they have provided over 1 billion pounds of food to their clients with over 31,000 volunteers. Out of their 1 million recipients, nearly a quarter are children under 18.
Backpack Program: Los Angeles Regional Food Bank participates in a backpack program that gives 825 children a backpack filled with six meals every Friday, enough to feed them for the weekend. Since the program began in 2006, their efforts have created a healthier community, and they are now working to expand it. They also have a Kids Café program that helps significantly in the summer months providing meals and snacks for over 6,000 children.
Education: They provide both nutritional education and health education services to children, teens adults and seniors. They put an emphasis on importance of healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices by using their resources to create meals and spread the knowledge, fighting to end hunger in their community.
More about our impact with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
About: The North Texas Food Bank passionately pursues a hunger-free community, providing 62 million nutritious meals in the last year alone. Out of every dollar they receive, 93 cents goes to hunger relief programs. They have 250 partner agencies over 1,000 locations throughout their 12-county service area, and they remain dedicated to helping every individual in need within their vast community.
Backpack Program: The North Texas Food Bank’s program, Food 4 Kids, gives a backpack full of food for the weekend to over 11,000 chronically hungry children every Friday. They also have a Kids Café that provides 1,600 students after school meals, and it keeps going through the summer with lunch and snacks for over 2,400 children.
Education: The North Texas Food Bank knows that education is a critical way to help prevent hunger. They provided 25 six-week courses in 2014 with 508 participants learning about nutrition, budgeting, safety and cooking. The North Texas Food Bank Hunger Center is a program committed to building knowledge as a way to end hunger through research and development of new strategies.
More about our impact with the North Texas Food Bank.
Join us at the 2015 Foodie 5K sponsored by the Northern Illinois Food Bank! The community fun
run/walk and post-run festival is just a little over a two months (April 11th), and we could not be more excited to donate our time and efforts to this awesome cause.
How would your participation or monetary contributions help those in need? The Northern Illinois Food Bank works to help solve hunger by providing nutritious meals to those in need. This is done through partnerships with other like-minded organizations.
For every $1 donated, theNorthern Illinois Food Bank provides $8 worth the groceries. Your donations are multiplied eight-fold, making even the smallest donation beyond relevant.
We had so much fun last year, that we’ve got a That’s Caring team running this year’s 5K! Join us or start a team of your own.
For more information about That’s Caring and its one-for-one model providing non-perishable food items to hungry children in the Northern Illinois area, visit www.thatscaring.com.
There are a lot of terms thrown around when discussing hunger, and not all of them have obvious meanings. Learn the basics of the hunger discussion with this helpful list of terms and definitions. Knowledge is the first step to eradicating the worldwide hunger problem! Help us to fight hunger and give happiness.
- balanced diet—a diet that contains adequate amounts of all the necessary nutrients required for healthy growth and activity (Princeton)
- food insecurity—consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year (USDA)
- food insecure household—consistent condition reported by households with very low food security or access to money and other nutrition resources (USDA Economic Research Service)
- food security—when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life (World Health Organization)
- hunger—the uneasy or painful sensation caused by want of food; craving appetite. Also, the exhausted condition caused by want of food. The want or scarcity of food in a country. A strong desire or craving (Oxford English Dictionary)
- malnutrition—also known as “undernutrition,” referring to a lack of some or all nutritional elements necessary for human health (Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia)
- micronutrient deficiency—a lack of vitamins and minerals in the body (worldhunger.org)
- nutrition—the act or process of nourishing or being nourished; specifically, the sum of the processes by which an animal or plant takes in and utilizes food substances (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
- poverty—the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions; also, a debility due to malnutrition (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
- protein-energy malnutrition—a lack of calories and protein in the body (worldhunger.org)
- starvation—suffering or death caused by having nothing to eat or not having enough to eat (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
- subsidized lunch—lunch acquired with support or assistance of an outside grant
- vulnerability—capable of being physically or emotionally wounded (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
- world hunger—the want or scarcity of food in a country aggregated to the world level (World Hunger website worldhunger.org)