In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.
Last year I wrote a post on ways to celebrate Thanksgiving. Its my favorite holiday and after I pound out this post off I head to spend time with my sister and her wacky family. We will laugh,debate,eat,sleep, watch movies, eat, laugh, fight, shop. And not in that order!
Wikipedia says that Thanksgiving Day is a harvest festival. Traditionally, it’s a time to give thanks for the harvest and express gratitude in general. As a country we’ve had another tough year and while things have gotten better, people still feel much pain and suffering; millions of people are currently unemployed. For many of us, it can be hard to stop worrying about the future and focus on how much we have received and show appreciation for it. A large body of work has suggested that people who are more grateful have higher levels of well-being. Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships.
Over the past few months I have started meditating. The best gift I have ever given myself– bar none. I have been focusing on Loving Kindness meditation.
I have found that the more I meditate and the stronger my practice the more I give… and the more I want to give.
How to do it . . .
The practice always begins with developing a loving acceptance of yourself. The practice itself is designed to overcome any feelings of self-doubt or negativity. Then you are ready to systematically develop loving-kindness towards others.
Four Types of Persons to develop loving-kindness towards:
• a respected, beloved person – such as a spiritual teacher;
• a dearly beloved – which could be a close family member or friend;
• a neutral person – somebody you know, but have no special feelings towards, e.g.: a person who serves you in a shop;
• a hostile person – someone you are currently having difficulty with.
From the Metta Prayer:
Just as a mother would guard her child, her only child, with her own life, even so let me cultivate a boundless mind for all beings in the world.
Let me cultivate a boundless love for all beings in the world, above, below, and across, unhindered, without ill will or enmity.
So as you cultivate your boundless love for the world…GIVE. What better way to BE the THANKFULLNESS this holiday season than to volunteer? I do not think it’s enough for us to feel gratitude.
It’s the expression of this feeling that matters.
Let me offer up a few tips and opportunities that you might find helpful as you think about volunteering as a way to express your gratitude.
Find the Right Opportunity
Find the opportunity that suits you best!
- Choose a cause that you’re passionate about.
- Find an opportunity that matches your skills, interests, and schedule. If Thanksgiving Thursday does not work for you (as you need to cook a gourmet dinner for 20) maybe the Friday before could better fit your schedule.
- Follow up promptly with the nonprofit after you’ve referred yourself to an opportunity. There are lots of great folks looking for an opportunity and if you do not follow-up promptly your spot could be taken.
- Be a Great Volunteer
Part of having a great volunteer experience is your ability to be a great volunteer. These basic principles are good to keep in mind:
Honor your volunteer commitments.
Extend gratitude to an organization for any training or professional development you receive while volunteering.
So now that you know you do want to volunteer, how do you find the right opportunity?
Look in your backyard: Is there something going on locally where you can plug in? Maybe the local school is planning a work day to revitalize the school building; the American Red Cross is collecting supplies for a local or national disaster; or your church is going to rake leaves for some elderly residents.
The economy is impacting hunger in every community across this country. Many food banks are in desperate need of donations. One in eight Americans are currently at risk of hunger. You can use this link to locate a food bank near you to find ways that you can help.
Also please check out one of my favorite projects-
One of my favorite sites, Epic Thanks site just launched yesterday, 11/23. As in years past, the global TweetsGiving celebration of gratitude & giving will last just 48 hours – so go there now to share your grateful heart & watch gratitude pour in from across the world. Epic Change believes the intention behind each investment we make to change the world deeply matters. By investing in honor of all you have to be grateful for, you’re transforming the world with the very best your heart has to offer.
If you have plans to volunteer this holiday season, I would love to hear about them! Please share your story. If you know of volunteer opportunities and want to get word out to potential volunteers, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.