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How to give back

Contribution – the drive to contribute to a greater sense of good – is one of our six human needs. It’s an essential part of life, and a powerful one. However, people often don’t realize that giving back is what is missing from their lives. If you’ve had a persistent feeling that “something is missing,” and you’ve recognized that you need to learn how to give back, we congratulate you. You’ve discovered that the secret to living is giving.

Think of how many people there are on the planet – more than 7 billion. Now, think of what the world would be like if each of those people took the time to give back. It does not have to be a grand gesture, involving lots of money and resources. Imagine if every person simply reached out to a friend in need, donated a few canned goods or spent time teaching their neighbors a new skill. The world would be a much more peaceful, joyful place if everyone discovered how to give back to the community.

You can’t change the actions of others, but you can look inside yourself and decide to contribute. One person can make a difference.

Contributing to the greater good doesn’t just enrich the lives of others; it will enrich your life as well. Volunteering helps you become your authentic self, fulfilling one of your basic needs and elevating you to a more beautiful state.

If you’re looking for ways to give back to the community, your loved ones or the world at large, the time to take action is now. You don’t have to go over the top to make a big difference – you just have to take one simple step. Here are a few simple ways to give back that you can start working on today.

Teach a skill

You don’t need to donate money to make massive change. There are plenty of ways to give back that are completely free. Teaching others a skill that they will then carry with them for the rest of their lives has a high impact – maybe even higher than money.  

What’s your area of expertise? Are you in the financial industry? Perhaps you could go to a local high school or community college to lead a seminar on investing in the stock market or saving for retirement. Do you thrive at public speaking? You could serve as a mentor for young professionals. Your hobbies can provide ideas, too. You could coach a youth sports team, teach a painting class or help a neighbor with home repairs. Think about what skills you’ve cultivated that you could pass on to others, then reach out to local community centers, businesses or schools to inquire about where you can offer your services.

woman teaching coding

Clean up your community

outdoor trash bin

When you’re thinking about how to give back to your community, it’s OK to start small. Think about your neighborhood. There’s probably a park, beach or street that you pass by often that is always dirty. You have the extra time to go out and make a difference. You’re not lacking the resources to make a change – you just might not be resourceful enough yet to do so on your own. Use the extra time you have, be it on a weekday morning or weekend afternoon, to go out with a trash bag or two and pick up clutter. Can you recruit friends or family members to go with you? Even better. Consider this a bonding event you can share with your loved ones, one that you can all feel good about contributing to.

Give food to those in need

All it takes is one act of kindness to change a life forever. Just ask Tony himself. His family often didn’t have enough to eat, but one Thanksgiving, a man showed up with a full turkey dinner. This one act made a lasting impact on Tony. Today, he partners with Feeding America. Through Tony’s 100 Million Meals Challenge, more than 315 million meals have been provided to people in need, with the ultimate goal of one billion meals by 2020. Through a comprehensive network of over 200 food banks throughout the country, Feeding America helps hungry Americans meet their needs. You can give a monetary donation to Feeding America or reach out to another local food bank in your area to donate money or time.

fruit assortment

Get your office involved

company volunteering teamwork

One person can make all the difference, and many people can make even more real change. If you work with others, you can get other people involved in your act of contribution. Reach out to your company’s human resources department to see if you can organize a corporate volunteering program. If people are interested at your office, you can work together to take on a charitable task, like competing to see who can raise the most money for a certain cause or volunteering at your local homeless shelter as a group. Helping others find ways to give back to the community and realize their own significance will bring even more positivity into your life.

Donate what you no longer need

Many of us have piles of stuff in our houses that we no longer have use for. Do you have clothing stacked inside your closet? Or children’s toys from when your kids were smaller? Perhaps you have outdoor equipment that you no longer use, or kitchen items that you received as gifts but didn’t end up needing. Those items don’t do anyone any good sitting in your home, but someone else could use them. Donate your unused or unwanted items to a local nonprofit in your area that resells them to people in need or gives them to homeless people in your community.

clothing in a thrift shop

Don’t wait to discover ways to give back

There’s no bad time to start giving back to the people in your community, your loved ones or the world at large. Now that you know a few straightforward ways to give back, it’s up to you to take the next step. Make a plan as to how to give back to the community and start donating your time or resources. Once you feel comfortable giving back, get your loved ones involved as well. You can create a ripple effect of positive energy that transcends into the larger community, and, eventually, the world.

Ready to start giving?

Learn about the organizations Tony Robbins supports and discover how you can make your own contribution.