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Many years ago, my wife and I set a goal for ourselves. We would instill generosity in our kids. The only way to successfully do this though is to teach by example.

So that’s what we do. We give back to our communities together. We make it a family activity, and when our kids see the two of us picking up garbage, helping someone up after a hard fall, or simply offering to help our neighbors bring in the groceries, they want to pitch in.

It may be surprising to learn, but generosity is actually beneficial to your health! Research shows that when you give back to others and your community, you’re likely to be happier and healthier.

Now, I’ve heard a ton of excuses from others about not having enough time to volunteer or extra money to donate, but the truth is, you’ll never have enough time and resources to help everyone in the world. All you can do is offer the help you are able to give.

Trust me – what you’ll get back will always be more than what you put in.

Giving back helps you appreciate how awesome your current life is. It makes you realize how you can make a difference in someone else’s life, and that you can do a whole lot of good even when you only have a little to give.

You don’t have to travel far or spend thousands of dollars to give back. There are so many simple and effective ways to get involved in your community. Here are a few of my family’s favorite ways to help others:

Caring for Mother Nature

Planet Earth is an incredible home, and it’s the only one we’ve got. As a family, we are aware of how our actions affect our environment, and we work to clean up after ourselves and others. Taking care of the planet can be as simple as picking up litter when you see it in public or starting a recycling program in your community

Serving Up a Family Dinner to Neighbors

There’s no better way to connect with others than breaking bread. For a neighbor that lives alone, a home cooked meal can mean the world. We love having neighbors and those less fortunate over for a delicious, healthy meal that the entire family made together.

Making Friends in Unexpected Places

One thing I’ve learned is that a friendly smile can go a long way, especially to those facing a challenging situation. Whether it’s a Spartan race, a nearby nursing home or the local humane society, we spend our time visiting with and supporting others. We cheer other Spartans on, listen to our neighbors’ stories, and give previously neglected animals a whole lot of love.

Giving Back Doesn’t Need to be Hard

If you’re having a tough time giving, try stripping away all the excess things in your life for just one day and see how that goes. No phone. No wifi. No car. When you experience what it’s like to live without the things you use every day, maybe you’ll have more empathy for those in need.

Remember, giving back doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. Start with something small as a family. Collect canned goods to donate to a local food shelter, give your lightly-worn winter coats to families in need, or participate in a charity walk for a cause you’re all passionate about. Make it a family activity, and I bet you’ll find that giving back becomes even more rewarding than it already was.

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