The world is full of people and nations suffering from extreme deprivation and pain. Poverty, war and diseases are rampant and affect over 5 billion people across the globe. But each of us who can read this has the opportunity to be participants in solving these problems, rather than being mute spectators. We can be volunteers and honour the goals of the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development on December 5.
This is our chance to be inspired by the many who selflessly serve people in the most under developed communities of the world. To volunteer is to proactively participate in programmes that change the world. “The best way to cheer yourself is to cheer someone else up,” wrote Mark Twain.
Research says that the best way to be happy is to lead a life of purpose, bringing joy into the life of others. It is the unfailing path to long term happiness. I have a friend who practises HOPE – Help One Person Every day. Like the boy scouts whose core value is to do a good turn every day. Helping others also gives us a clearer perspective of how trivial our own problems are. There is an old widow in my neighbourhood who distributes bananas every day in the local government hospital.
You don’t need to look far to help others. Just improve the lives of those who work for you. If you would like something more formal, join a service organisation or volunteer at the local government, school or hospital. Helping others connects us to a network. It makes us a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem.
How can we volunteer? The 4Ts come to mind — Time, Talent, Thoughts and Treasure. Act wherever and whenever you can with whatever you have. Whether it is small, unplanned acts of kindness or regular volunteering, do it today.
The writer is the author of Everyday Happiness Mantras
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