by John Sherry, the author of Real Simple People.
Do you contribute in life?
Give something of yourself back?
If so, in what way?
Normally the term contribution is viewed as a financial offering. Giving money by the masses to improve situations, for a cause or helping others out.
Donors feel good because it’s an easy way to assist. Popping a coin or two into a collection box or donating online to an appeal takes barely a minute.
True, that these things make a world of difference. But what if the difference to that same world was you and how you contribute?
And, more strikingly, what if you could truly contribute to a better world that doesn’t cost you a penny but is worth its weight in gold to other people?
Would you then contribute more? Leave a legacy like the best of them?
“The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live”. Ethel Percy AndrusIt is to this calling that Mother Teresa dedicated her life among the slums of Calcutta.
From 1950 until her death in 1997, she tirelessly worked touching the lives of those in the poorest of conditions in one of the most poverty stricken cities around the globe.
Setting up the ‘Missionaries of Charity’, she and her fellow nuns, plus a team of countless volunteers, raised money for decades to provide the barest of neccessities for the poor, sick and downtrodden.
Her contribution has left a legacy, one so strong that I am sharing it with you here. This is the power of true contribution. One from the self, from the heart.
Your contribution need not be so sacrificial. Nor must you neccessarily travel the world to some far flung land to get your hands dirty.
Though if you do choose this option, there is many a charity who would welcome your efforts, as willing hands are always in short supply.
Just ask Arvind himself, a true contributor at every level if there is one. He is a fundraiser for the Nirvana School in Pondicherry, India, and ran the 2009 London Marathon in aid of WellChild, a national charity for sick children as well as being an active connector of people, a sharer of his spirit and support, and a man who offers only empowering words when he speaks.
So how can you be an authentic contributor? What is it that you can give?
1. Give neighbourly
Life is best from the grass roots up. From community and the place we live. Our neighbourhood. Commence your work there. In and among your own. Your street, road or apartment block first of all.
In modern 21st Century life we are often accused of not knowing our neighbours. Having no idea of who lives across the street at No.30 or never seeing the young couple next door. Buck that trend. Be the one who beats the old perception that nobody cares.
Start simply with the odd, “Hello”, to everyone you meet in your street or locale. Show a friendly smile. Shake hands. Offer to help someone carry their bags. If a chat ensues, don’t shy away from it. Get stuck in.
Talk is good, building rapport is gigantic.
Get to know others and let everyone know you care. Work out when neighbours come home from their jobs or duties and arrange to be outside so you can introduce yourself properly with a, “Hi”, and strike up a conversation. A good neighbourhood has a good neighbour at its heart. Why not strive to make that you?
2. Give time
The gift of time is a huge one. Chiefly due to the fact that it costs nothing but matters so very much. Just ask a child you’ve spent 30 mins playing with. Or an elderly relative who misses her family. Time given is multiplied ten fold in the receivers heart. Your time, their utter joy and happiness.
Promise yourself to offer time to others nearby. Getting milk for old Mrs Worrall. Chatting with Bert as he comes back from buying his paper.
Thirty minutes now and again running errands or a few hours every year for the scout jumble sale won’t kill you. It will be noticed and appreciated more than you know by others both young and old. The ones whose lives are part of yours.
3. Give a hand
Go for it. Get involved. Communities often have community schemes.
From picking up litter every month or so to giving lifts to the disabled and infirm, there is much you can do for virtually no outlay. Painting, gardening, youth club work, church (or mosque or synagogue or any place of worship), groups like coffee mornings or outreach work and sports clubs all need a helping hand now and again.
4. Give of yourself
Everyone has something to offer. From skills to a sense of humour. A desire to get involved or the ability to be a people person. Or just being a good, hard worker.
What’s yours? What are you good at? What is ‘natural’ for you?
This is exactly what the world needs and, more significantly, the world on your doorstep. Your place and space on the planet. Inject some of yourself into that area. Contribute that self to the greater good. Be it in Bombay or Birmingham.
5. Give freely
True contribution does not seek reward as it is reward itself. It isn’t ego based or possession driven yearning for awards and recognition or monetary payment for services rendered. It asks nothing for itself being given freely from the heart.
Feel free to be an instrument of assistance but do so without charge of cost nor expectation of return.
Whatever you do, how ever you give, make that contribution heartfelt. Do it from a place of love for all. Let your hands be genuine in their toil and your words encouraging in their sound. Give from the inside out and welcome the outside in.
No need to open your wallet as opening your heart and sharing that willingly will make a rich contribution that money could never buy.
Honest efforts designed to unite communities by honest minded souls will always pay off.
And remember the mantra….one person may not change the world, but they may change the world for one person. It only takes one for the ripples to spread. Be that person.
It’s time to contribute from the heart and not just the pocket.
Discover more about John Sherry’ s simple view on life at Real Simple People, his blog on keeping life simple. And please do remember to subscribe:-)
Photo courtesy of Stig Nygaard