Giving back to the world around you can make you feel better in yourself. It also has added health benefits like lower blood pressure and a longer life. When you aren’t feeling happy in yourself it can be difficult to be motivated to do something for others. Why not do something that you enjoy with the added bonus of helping?
Foster an animal – If you love animals but maybe don’t feel ready for the commitment of a full time pet, try fostering. Here in Dublin the SPCA is always looking for foster parents for their animals. You get to see what it’s like to have a pet, without feeling obligated to keep it forever.
Volunteer at a charity shop – If you have some spare time or have been out of work and want to ease yourself back into that life, this is a great start. Usually the hours are relatively short and you will also be helping a great cause.
Run for charity – There are tons of fun runs all over the world that need money raised. If you already like to run you are doing something you love while also contributing to the greater good.
Turn hobbies into fundraisers – Maybe you love to bake or have a knack for making decorations. You could set up a table one day and decide that all money raised goes to help a cause you are passionate about.
There are so many benefits to giving and it’s something that is incredibly easy to do. Especially once you realise you don’t even have to go out of your way to do it.
“No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank
Every year we age, change and hopefully grow. However, we don’t usually take the time to reflect on such developments. I feel that’s what birthdays should be for. Used to take the time to ponder the year that has passed and the lessons learned.
It’s interesting to me when people dread birthdays. What’s so terrible about getting another year older? At least you’re here to blow out the candles one more time. Birthdays tie into our feelings about ageing and ageing can be a very scary thing. Especially if they are just a reminder of how you are counting down the days, waiting for your life to truly begin.
In reality you’re in it, it’s begun, this is your life. Getting older can be overwhelming when you feel like you were destined for more. Regret can follow you like a ghost, constantly reminding you about the path you didn’t follow. The negativity can swallow you and make each passing birthday no fun at all.
If you want you feel less overwhelmed on your next birthday there are some simple changes you can start today.
- Be grateful – make a list of all the things you are grateful for. Begin with the basics, a roof over your head, food in the fridge, good health etc. Gratitude has many positive side effects, try to embrace the good things in your life. It will help make it more difficult to find the bad things.
- Let go of regrets – It happened, it was a bad choice but it doesn’t have to haunt you or define you. You have to choose how to move on from it. It might mean asking for forgiveness from someone or from yourself. There is no way to know how different life could have been, work on accepting the way it is.
- What are you afraid of? Ask yourself why you fear getting older. Maybe you lost a loved one at a certain age so that age terrifies you. Maybe ageing only brings up negative emotions or difficult memories. Give yourself space to examine why you feel the way you do to gain a better understanding of yourself.
Many people go through their lives never asking, ‘How could this be better?’ It doesn’t always have to be a struggle. When the next birthday rolls around hopefully you’ll be grateful for the year that has past, appreciating the life you have lived.
“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” – Gabriel Garcia Marques
I have a beautiful god-daughter who I think is one of the smartest, sweetest, most beautiful kids on the planet. After minding her I have a further appreciation of sleep and for all parents out there. Kids are wonderful teachers as they can see a world filled with joy and opportunities. I think we could all benefit from having such beliefs.
Below are some things I have learned from her and other children, they are all adding light to an often dark and cynical world.
- The world is an amazing place. With fresh eyes we can appreciate so much more around us. Helicopters and airplanes are a marvel. Our imagination is an incredible tool that we rarely use for good. Every morning is a gift and we should all wake up as excited as a child because it means a new day full of possibility.
- We rarely check our needs, also known as the: ‘Do you need to wee?’ principle. Kids can get so wrapped up in playing, laughing or watching cartoons that accidents can happen. As you spend your day rushing around do you ever stop and notice your needs or how you’re feeling? Take a second and close your eyes. Take a slow deep breath through your nose, down into you belly, then slowly exhale through your mouth. Do that a few times then ask yourself: How am I feeling? What do I need? Take note and follow through if you can.
- Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. This kid only had a few mouthfuls of ice cream then stopped. I repeat, ice cream. Her body told her she was full so she stopped eating. We can get very detached from ourselves, our bodies and what they need. You can change that by trying to eat mindfully (pause between bites and appreciate flavours) then wait at least 10-20 minutes before getting a second helping.
- Sometimes a hug and a kiss can make it all better. Life can be difficult at any age. Even more so when we feel alone. A hug won’t make your problems disappear but it can make them feel more manageable. Feeling connected to someone else makes the hard times easier to bear and makes us feel safe. The small child in all of us needs to feel like it will all be okay.
- There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. From a young age being independent makes us feel strong, capable and in control. But there are times when we can’t do it alone. Try to quiet the judge in your mind, you aren’t weak for needing/wanting help, you’re human.
- Bubbles are amazing. No need to elaborate.
- If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. We want to instil in children that there is nothing wrong with getting it wrong; you will learn and grow. As we get older we forget about that. So many strive for ‘perfection’ feeling that every mis-step is a failure, that we are failures. That simply is not the case. Mistakes are an opportunity for growth. Grieve if you need to, show yourself some compassion then move forward with new knowledge.
- Make time to rest when you’re exhausted. Give yourself permission to slow down. Sometimes we all need a nap.
- Sharing can be difficult. When we’re young we are taught how important it is to share. As adults with jobs and families we have to once again learn that lesson. Sharing our space and time isn’t easy and we can sometimes feel as though we are stretched too thin. That’s when we refer back to #5 and #8, share with someone your vulnerability and your need for naps.
- Love and be loved. Of all the lessons we will ever learn this is of the utmost importance. I believe this is the reason we are here, to learn how to love and how to be loved. Children epitomise this as they love without condition and judgement. They do not question why others love them, they just know it to be true. I think they’re onto something.
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” -Lao Tzu