Happy New Year, readers! I hope you have each had a wonderful start to the New Year, and are feeling as optimistic as I am about 2013. This January feels like a new beginning for me, and a chance to use all of the life skills I’ve been building recently.
While many people create New Year’s Resolutions at the beginning of every year and vow to achieve specific goals, I think it’s more valuable to simply make a commitment to do better.
Over the past few months, I’ve dedicated myself to creating a more meaningful life as if it were another full-time job. And because many of us feel inspired by the fresh start that every January seems to offer us, I decided to share some of the new skills I’ve fostered. Perhaps you will be inspired, as I have been!
Pause and appreciate
Our culture makes it easy to speed through life at 90 miles per hour, not connect with other humans, and turn off our minds (and spirits) in front of technology. We mindlessly scroll through Facebook feeds, walk around staring at our phones, and curse the quiet time that is provided by our commutes. And most of us—judging from the amount of road rage I see every day—aren’t particularly happy.
One of the best ways to bring abundance and happiness into your life is to show appreciation for the world around you, and for what your life has brought you. This goes beyond saying, “I am thankful for my home and family.” It means truly taking the time to enjoy the beauty in the people you love, the food that you eat, and your surroundings. Every day, I take the time to pause and truly enjoy a delicious cup of coffee or an especially good cookie. I tell my friends that I love them. I marvel in the beauty that is the San Francisco Bay.
Choose people over things
How often do you find yourself standing in a public place, but staring at your phone? I frequently see people dining together, but both parties are buried in their phones. I used to be like that. It is a difficult change to make, but putting my iPhone away and actually engaging with the people around me—both strangers and friends—has made a world of difference in my life. I made a commitment to put down my technology when I’m in the presence of other people, and engage in life. I am now connecting with my friends in person, not on Facebook. And when I’m with my friends, I am truly present and resist the opportunity to text someone who isn’t there.
Find more purpose
Pursuing your passion doesn’t mean you need to quit your job and start a nonprofit (but kudos to you if you can!). For me, feeling as though I’m making a difference has started small, by finding people who are working for things I care passionately about and helping them.
Volunteering filled my heart, but I wanted to do more; the next obvious step for me was donating. Before I took my job at JustGive, I would have considered myself too cash-strapped to make a worthy donation. One thing I’ve learned, though, is that every bit makes a difference. And when I learned about monthly recurring donations, I realized that I could easily fit charity into my budget.
A small budget isn’t a problem for everyone, thankfully, and monthly giving has other benefits. For example, it’s easy: you can set up a recurring donation and forget about it. Knowing that you’re making a bigger difference in the causes you care about most feels amazing, and it’s nice to know that you don’t have to remember to make a contribution. Plus, nonprofits prefer monthly recurring donations: it’s money they can count on.
Here are a few great ways that a monthly contribution can make a difference in our world:
- $15/month can purchase an 11-day supply of ready-to-use food (RUTF) to treat a malnourished child, through Doctors Without Borders.
- $20/month helps educate 200 consumers about the environmental and health impacts of single-use plastics such as straws and to-go containers, through COARE.
- $36/month gets 5 dogs and 5 cats vaccinated and spayed/neutered each month, through ASPCA.
- $49/month sends a girl to school for a year, opening up a world of opportunities for her, through CARE.
- $100/month pays for 4,311 individual meals a year, through Loaves & Fishes.
This is a great time of year to create positive new habits that will make you feel good about yourself, your family and your life. I hope that you’ve found these tips helpful, and I wish you a wonderful and happy 2013!
Do you have tips for making life more meaningful? Share them in the comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook!
—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager