Want to Feel Good? Do Good
I hear it all the time. “I just want to feel good.” All of us struggle with finding and maintaining good feelings. We must never forget that feeling good, or feeling anything we want to feel, is up to us. We create it. It is not a gift granted to the few and the wealthy. If we want to feel good, we get to control those levers of power within and feel good. And we get a real boost in the feeling good arena when we do good things for others. Studies show that people who reach out to help others, who donate their time and energy, and generally do things to make their communities a better place, are less likely to suffer from anxiety and stress, and are significantly more likely to report feeling good. It sounds like one of the best ways to feel good is to do good. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Volunteer. I, personally, am not in the position to go out to volunteer and support the organizations that need help, and I would never suggest that others stand in my place. But I know many folks who are ready and able to be out in the community, providing their physical support to the organizations that we need the most. Food banks are desperate for hands on deck. Meals On Wheels provides the incredible service of getting food to the homebound and is a good place to start. Organizations have popped up all over this country that are designed to connect volunteers with community needs. Find one near you if you are ready to put your helpful hands and heart to work.
Thank your delivery people, mail carriers and other service providers. They still head out each and every day to make sure you have what you need. My kids put out a basket with treats and drinks that resides on the porch each day for the taking. They refill it weekly and can often be found watching through the window as our mailman drops the mail and selects a granola bar. It is apparently very exciting.
Write. To family. To friends. Thank them for that gift from 10 years ago that you used last week and it made you think of them. Thank them for just being among the people you love and trust. Send them a picture of you together with a short story about what you remember from that time in your shared history. Good feelings about good times spread like a virus we all need right about now. How about writing to a stranger? Snowline Hospice is a foundation that accepts thoughtful emails to brighten the days of the terminally ill. And my family collaborated with a local senior living facility to collect pictures and letters from neighborhood children to deliver to their residents, bringing them a bit of joy from the outside world.
Reach out to those you know with young children and offer creative ways to entertain them or educate them. Parents, working or not, need a break. We need the opportunity to do something else other than entertain our children. And when my sister calls every Wednesday to host her hourly “auntie camp” it is simply one of the best hours of the week. I know the kids are happy. I know they are doing something other than staring at a movie or video game. And I know they are communicating and connecting with a person outside of our household, a skill they will need on the tail end of all of this. If there are no children in your family, reach out to the library or the school. They might be looking for community members to host story time, tutor students or just serve as big buddies.
Use your financial resources. If you have the funds, thoughtfully pay it forward. We aren’t driving our cars so our insurance premiums are way down. We are sending that savings to our local food bank. It is not much, but it is not nothing when it comes to feeding a family in need. We canceled our family vacation. That money can go to our local school fundraising organization. We didn’t pay for camps for the kids this summer. That money will be very well-spent in Beirut as they attempt to rebuild after the devastating chemical explosion. If you have the resources and the desire, there are plenty of causes that will thank you for every dollar you send their way.
Address this immediate crisis. There is still so much to be done. Break out your sewing machine and make some masks. Though desperate calls for them have disappeared from the airwaves, speak to any medical professional or school teacher and they will tell you that masks are needed. Don’t sew? No problem. Lots of organizations are making masks and donating them. Donate money, fabric or other supplies to them. In California, you can volunteer to be a contact tracer, a job that requires only a bit of your time and your phone. And, if nothing else, do your part to listen to and follow local guidelines for just staying in to help stop the spread. Now and for the near future, staying home represents one of the very best good things you can do.
Feeling good is directly related to how we treat others and what we do to help others around us. There are so many ways we can reach out during this time. Find them. Enjoy them. And start to feel good.