By Samantha Papesch
“It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it” ~ Nelson Mandela
I was inspired to write this blog thanks to my friend and creative mentor, Wanda Grein.
Wanda recently published a book called ‘All roads lead to Cairo ~ no need to judge‘. It’s a beautiful tale; her memoirs woven amongst self-help strategies that encourage readers to tap into their ‘soul energy’, and find their full potential through fearless creativity.
Knowing Wanda, I knew this book would be full of wisdom and great ideas, and that I could pick the parts that resonated most with me, and use them to positively steer my life. I was right. And, it got me thinking that we all have the ability to ‘give’, and that contribution in any form can provide opportunities for positive impact.
In my younger years, I held a misguided belief that only contributions on a ‘grand and acknowledged’ scale were worthy, and therefore, if you weren’t a full-time volunteer in a third-world country, or a politician, it didn’t really count.
Nothing could be further from the truth, and my naive perspective on this changed after attending ANZAC day in Gallipoli in the late 90s. Staring at the gravestones of the fallen – most the same age as me (22), it hit home hard, that each of us has an important role in striving for the greater good.
Back in 1915, these men gave their greatest contribution and sacrifice – their lives. Today, people are still giving their lives for our freedom (something we can never lose sight of), but for those wondering what difference they can make towards a positive society, the possibilities are endless.
As humans, we’re all striving for a happy life, and one of the best ways is with simple actions from the heart. Contributing to the happiness of others has a significant impact. Whether you’re the giver or receiver, it touches the very core of our existence.
Gallipoli had a profound effect on me, and every year at Dawn Service the ‘Last Post’ fills my body with an eerie reminder that like then, today we must continue in the spirit of camaraderie, and keep contributing as best we can. And, when we’re almost at breaking point, often this is when it matters most.
These days, finding ways to help others is vital to my wellbeing, and as a result, it’s answered the internal question about my life’s purpose – to give, share and help others in any way I can, so they can exist happily, and as equally as me.
I’ll admit though, that until recently I never imagined that ‘running my household’ would fall into this realm. The mundanity of it all was always about ‘having to’, rather than the privilege of ‘getting to’, until I read this article, which completely transformed my perception once again.
Suddenly, there was joy in the ability to provide for my family (even though it was still hard at times). I found happiness in preparing meals – something I would ordinarily loathe – and felt satisfaction teaching my young kids how to unpack the dishwasher, for example.
For me, this is where the “culture of contribution” all starts – at home, and in our own backyard. We’re not ‘giving up’ our time or energy, we’re ‘investing it’; and the outcomes pay dividends for us all.
I owe a lot to my parents for this mindset. While I didn’t recognise it at the time, their contribution was inherent throughout my childhood. From working bees at the tennis club, to serving on the school committee; from baking for cake stalls, to helping neighbours with odd jobs. My parents were (and still are) putting their hand up, and putting ‘in’ to the community.
I see it in my own community too – and every day I’m inspired to do the same, by the people who make a positive social impact by volunteering their time and energy, and who share their knowledge, skills, and gifts in any way they can.
In a small town, these efforts are magnified, and there’s a perception that perhaps we live in a ‘bubble’. But, in my experience, happiness isn’t limited to a location or a lucky few. Everyone has something to contribute, and a small act of kindness anywhere in the world is simply the best place to start.