In a typical day, our focus tends to be on us, our work and our people. We do not find the time to even think about others. Many a time, life appears to be becoming meaningless. Restoring meaning to life then assumes great importance. What can we do to make our lives happy and more satisfactory? The answer lies in turning to our roots, working with and for the benefit of the very communities in which we have grown up and become who we are. A lot of us yet question how this would benefit us and how best we can make it work for ourselves.
A sense of meaning
Participating in activities that are beyond our everyday duties or family obligations goes a long way in imparting meaning to our lives. It gives us a feeling of doing something worthwhile.
Enrich others’ lives
Engaging in community work makes us feel that we are doing something meaningful and at the same time, enriching the lives of other people, some of whom may be deprived of a lot of things. The feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that ensues from knowing that we have made a difference in someone’s life is incomparable. Neither money, nor any material possession can give a similar kick. So, try it out.
No need to always start big
Working in the community is not just about engaging in big projects or activities. It is not about joining a non-government organisation or giving up your job to do something for a community-based programme. We can start with small things. This could be a simple act of getting involved in the working of a welfare association in your neighbourhood. It need not always be in a position like a treasurer’s or a secretary’s but can be as a volunteer. It could be something like teaching a small child or just spending time talking to an elderly person. It contributes to the well- being of the whole community.
Make it work with your job
One does not have to make a choice between one’s job and community service. It is important to remember that. Working for the community and for yourself must always be mutually exclusive goals. They can go together. They can be modified and adapted to in tandem. But that is something one has to figure out one one’s own and make it happen.
Giving is a good feeling
We have learnt to take. We want more and more, whether it is money or happiness, anything tangible or intangible. But remember, sometimes giving can be equally pleasurable. Trying to do this is the first step, and if it goes well, make it a habit. You will be a happier person.
The author is a psychiatrist, and chief, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Max Healthcare