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Volunteering during holidays can change a life – maybe yours

What does it mean to feel wealthy, and how can we achieve it?

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As a financial adviser, my clients come to me seeking help with growing their wealth. Perhaps the greatest lesson I share is that being rich isn’t a dollar amount; it is a perception that includes happiness, peace of mind, comfort and security. There’s a big difference between being wealthy and feeling wealthy.

So, what does it mean to feel wealthy, and how can we achieve it?

The great speaker and author Zig Ziglar once said, "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want." Accordingly, one of the best ways I advise others in building their wealth is this: the secret to having more is giving more. 

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Volunteering, especially during the holiday season when it is needed the most, is a perfect way to give back.

Volunteers give out food and essentials in Minneapolis in July 2020.

Volunteers give out food and essentials in Minneapolis in July 2020. (City of Joy)

Serving others lifts our eyes to see – and meet - the needs of other people. Even helping someone with a small task can make a remarkable difference in that person’s life, and in turn, provide you with an incredible feeling of accomplishment.

In fact, studies have shown that people who volunteer weekly exhibit an increase in happiness that is comparable to the happiness reported by those who earn a high income. Donating your time makes you grateful for all that you have, and you’ll have the unmatched joy and excitement of knowing you made a huge impact for the good of others.

Volunteering enables you to expand your network to others in your community and make it a better place. It also increases your relationship skills, encourages you to have conversations with people from very different walks of life, builds your self-confidence, counters the sadness that some experience during the holiday season, and keeps you physically active. You can even make new friends.

Anyone can volunteer, and it is a wonderful activity that families can do together.

Anyone can volunteer, and it is a wonderful activity that families can do together. This has the added benefit of serving as a good role model to your children, by showing them how serving others can really make a difference in their lives. I am encouraging my kids to volunteer in a shelter this season and experience this power of love for themselves.

Without fail, every time I volunteer at a local nonprofit, I have conversations that change my life in some way. I was once volunteering at a local shelter and was asked to help sort jackets for the homeless ahead of the approaching winter. I struck up a conversation with the others who were volunteering – local business owners and contractors. 

As we chatted about everything from our backgrounds and why we were volunteering, to more personal issues like having kids with problems, tough marriages, drug addiction, and homelessness, we all suddenly realized that everyone in the building, including the volunteers, had pain in their lives. 

It was an incredibly powerful moment for me: the overwhelming gratitude of those receiving the jackets acted like a nuclear bomb going off in my heart, and it also touched the other volunteers, making us all realize how truly blessed we are.

Giving our time, money, and energy is by far one of the great expressions of love. It gives us the opportunity to make a positive change in someone else’s life, which in turn lifts our spirits and gives us a sense of purpose and fulfillment like nothing else.

We need other people. We were created for community, and nothing grows community like working for and with other people.

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The truth is that something happens in our hearts when we give; it causes us to see the world through someone else’s eyes. If "wealth" really is a perception of relative happiness, comfort, and security, we must learn to get outside our own experience and understand what wealth means to other people. 

You could change someone’s life with a simple gift, maybe even your own.

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