With 2016 now well under way, many of us are finally getting around to giving those New Year's resolutions a shot. For some people, that means hitting the gym a few times a week or starting to budget, for others, it's incentive to do something that has wider-reaching benefits. If you've been feeling like your life is headed in the right direction, whether that means you've found a great relationship, are really killing it at work, or have simply found some balance that your life previously lacked, it's time to take a minute to reflect on how grateful you are and think about paying it forward. This year, if you're looking to give back, whether to your community or the world at large, consider getting involved with some of these altruistic activities.
Join a mentoring organization:
If you're passionate about creating a better future for the kids in your community, join a mentoring program in your area. Organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and Boys & Girls Club match adults up with children and teens who could benefit from a relationship with an adult role model. One of the best things about these organizations is their success rate; according to a study by Trinity College, youth mentoring is strongly correlated with higher high school graduation rates and pursuing a college education.
Spend some time with senior citizens: With life expectancy around the world increasing, we're seeing a massive increase in the senior citizen population. However, senior citizens are among our most vulnerable populations, with disease and mental health issues like depression threatening the well-being of much of our elderly population. If you're interested in making a difference in your community's elderly population, volunteer at a local nursing home. Just a few conversations or games of cards each month can make a huge difference in the life of a senior in your area.
Donate to a food bank:
In a difficult economic climate, even men and women who are employed can struggle with food insecurity. Help those in your community you might go hungry by dropping off a donation at your local food bank — even if you can't go out and spend hundreds of dollars on groceries to give away, many food banks accept canned goods and personal care items.
Help with a local cleanup effort:
The world is a beautiful place, but the sheer amount of refuse humans produce can make it a pretty dirty one, too. If you want to make an immediate impact in your community, join a local clean-up effort. Whether you're picking up trash along a highway or helping to fight pollution in your local rivers, lending just a little bit of your time can make a big difference.
Tell your friends or family you love them:
The simplest way to give back to members of your inner circle is also the most meaningful — just tell the people you appreciate in your life that you love them. Whether you write out a handwritten card to your grandma or send an email to a far away friend letting them know you're thinking about them, these small gestures can go a long way toward brightening someone else's day.
A little positivity can go a long way; just put your gratitude out into the universe — you'll be amazed at just how quickly it pays you back.