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We Can’t All Be Mother Teresa May 25, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness, People.

If you want to volunteer your time and talents to help others . . . great!  Like exercise, volunteering is good for the heart.

Whether we have 5 minutes, 5 hours, or all day, we can be the change we wish to see in the world . . . transforming ripples of kindness and peace into a tidal wave  of love and compassion.

As an added bonus, volunteers tend to lower their stress levels in the process of “reaching out” to others, making it a win-win for everyone . . . as long as they don’t “overdo it” by trying to be all things to all people.

A few tips:

(1) Generosity of spirit is wonderful ~ just be sure to make conscious decisions  about which parts of yourself you want to share with the world.

(2) In evaluating volunteer options, don’t be overly altruistic.  Don’t volunteer to do something you feel you “should do” . . . unless you actually want to do it.

(3)  If volunteering for a cause feels like a sacrifice, give yourself permission to try something else.

(4) Don’t let others decide how you “should” spend your limited time and energy here on the planet.

(5)  Time passes quickly.  Every moment is precious.  If you value happiness, set your priorities accordingly.

(6)  Stop volunteering for a cause that is making you unhappy.

Let’s say you are a doctor who specializes in plastic surgery on the rich and famous.

You are a wonderful plastic surgeon, in high demand, and you get paid well for your time and talents, but you don’t feel fulfilled.

You sign up to volunteer with an organization that goes to third world countries to provide medical care, including plastic surgery for birth defects.

Although you find the work fulfilling, you also discover that:

* you hate the travel involved with a passion
* you dislike living in a tent
* you are terrified of the wild animals roaming
* you miss your creature comforts

Instead of volunteering overseas, go back home and volunteer to help people in your own backyard.

Give someone who loves traveling to foreign ports the opportunity to volunteer overseas.

We can’t all be Mother Teresa ~ that was her job. Besides, she loved what she was doing.  It wasn’t a sacrifice for her.

Don’t worry about what the world wants from you, worry about what makes you come more alive.  Because what the world really needs are people who are alive.  ~ Lawrence Le Shan

No rules.  Just write!

Related:  Generosity of Spirit * Live Your Life


1. Shannon - May 25, 2010

Thank you for this post. I find it challenging for myself because there are so many “things” others want “for” me and I find it difficult not to take on these wants for myself as if I “should” do them. It turns into guilt that I am not doing what I “should” be doing when the little things that I do for others does make people happy and I am happy in the process even if it doesn’t “look” like I am living my full potential to others around me. Quite challenging sometimes and frustrating. So thank you for this post.

2. nrhatch - May 25, 2010

Volunteering to help others is good for them and good for us (as the volunteers) . . .

But not if we do it out of a sense of “obligation” with simmering resentment at being “used.”

It shouldn’t feel like a sacrifice . . . it should feel like a reward. If it doesn’t, some further evaluation is needed to find a better “fit” for our unique talents. : )

3. Joanne - May 26, 2010

Agree to all of the above… This can also be applied to relationships with significant others. I was recently in a relationship in which it seemed that the other person acted as though I was a charity case, many times disregarding all that I did to reciprocate in appreciation for what I felt at the time was being given unconditionally.

nrhatch - May 26, 2010

Relationships are tricky rabbits . . . many times people “give” while keeping a score-card in their back pocket.

We see what we expect to see.

If we look for ways that people have “let us down” . . . we will find evidence to support that thought.

If we look for ways that people have “lifted us up” . . . we will find evidence to support that thought.

Our thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies. : )

4. asdungan - August 31, 2010

Very good post.
As an individual that is constantly trying to induce people to volunteer, I also recognize that not everyone is suited to volunteer in similar arenas.

Furthermore, I recognize that volunteering should not be a painstaking affair. Instead it should transformative and a breath of fresh air.


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