I recently talked to a group of National Charity League senior girls who are about to embark on their college journeys. As I’m about to end mine this June, I was reminded of how wonderful it feels to be hopeful and full of anticipation. Sure, we’re all a bit fearful as well whenever we start a new chapter, but looking back I see how much more courage I had than I ever realized.
I spoke with the girls about the importance of giving back as they go off to school. In case you’re wondering what National Charity League, it is a mother daughter organization that fosters the spirit of community service throughout a six-year period from seventh grade to senior year. My mom and I were apart of the organization from start to finish and we both gained so much individually and also as a mom-daughter duo.
As I prepared my talking points with the girls, I realized how volunteering can bring about new challenges once you fly away from the nest. Once you’re bombarded with lectures, making new friends and adjusting to a new lifestyle, finding the time to give back can be overwhelming. But if there’s a will, there’s a way.
I’ve written about happiness on a regular basis these past three years and there is one overarching theme: happiness happens when we share it with others. Giving back is the greatest gift we can give to others, but we also benefit as a byproduct. Note that I use the word byproduct—we should not be volunteering solely or mainly for our own gain. Once we start offering our time and money as a line on a resume—you can be sure you’re writing off your happiness.
It’s about being a cheerful giver. Let us be thankful that we can offer support and let us be humble to receive it when we need it. As I looked at these senior girls who had just sent off their college applications and were waiting by the mailboxes for their letters, I was reminded of that same cheerfulness and novel feeling of excitement I had as a senior in high school. We need to take that same feeling of wonderment and combine it with our generosity to truly give from a place of gratitude—not just as high school students or college graduates. Wherever we are in life, giving back should be one of our greatest goals.
Let us celebrate philanthropy and community service. When we have to wake up at 6:00 am for a Relay for Life, let’s get up with a spring in our step. When we donate our money that we worked hard to earn, let us open our hands wide. When someone is sick or lonely, let us come to their aid and stay an extra hour. Let us soak in these moments of immeasurable worth and keep them alive in their heart. Those who give are the happy souls. There is never any guilt, any shame, or any sorrow in giving. You will never regret it or wish you spent your time elsewhere. You will always be glad and the gratitude you had before will grow tenfold.
Let’s give wherever we go. Happiness to you all!
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook