Life is wonderful! When we are able to give and take we experience the balance that comes from doing for others while we also take care of our own needs. This summer, let’s focus on the ways we can give to our loved ones, our community and our world and still take the time we need for ourselves. Real happiness comes from doing the things that make us feel good deep inside the soul. Here are eight great give and take activities that will bring you more happiness this summer.
1. Give time to your loved ones and family
Let go of some of your usual routines. If you don’t do your regular workout or get all of the laundry done as usual, so what? This is a great time to spend more hours with those you love. Give the gift of your undivided attention. The more relaxed months of summer only come around once a year. Whether your focus is summer romance or romping on the beach with the kids, be with the people you love. Summer will be over before you know it.
2. Take time for yourself
Take a day — or two — off this summer that is “just for you.” Schedule “time for me” on your calendar as if it were the most important event of the whole year. What would you like to do? Get your nails done or go to a museum you have wanted to visit all year? Or perhaps practice your guitar or the piano and spend a day with your music? Regardless, schedule it for yourself and enjoy.
3. Give away the things you don’t need
Give things you don’t want or need to others who are less fortunate than you. In our world today there is plenty to eat and enough clothing to wear; but only if we can distribute the goods to those in need. On a summer evening, clean out a closet and give your unwanted clothing to charity organizations that will give someone else the opportunity to wear the clothes you aren’t wearing. And if you have a garden, give some of the fresh produce to your local food bank. There are always too many tomatoes to eat at one time. Remember the tomatoes last year that nobody ate? Give some of your homegrown food away when it is still fresh.
4. Take yourself shopping
Be good to yourself and go shopping for one new summer outfit. You don’t need to fill up all the space in the closet you just cleared, but you do owe yourself a new outfit for being willing to give up so many of the clothes you haven’t been wearing. What would you like to buy? Do you want a new bathing suit or a smart pair of slacks? Think about it. Then have a great time shopping on a summer afternoon or after work while it is still light out. Get out there because those long hours of daylight are not going to last all year.
5. Give a day of your summer to someone in need
Summer is the perfect time to go visit a neighbor who is not able to leave her home, or for you to take the drive to visit a relative who is ill and not able to take a trip to visit you. When we are able to move around, we can often forget that there are many people who are stuck inside most of the time, and some who cannot even leave their beds. Take a day this summer to give to those less mobile than you. And if you are not mobile, perhaps you can take the day to make phone calls to those in need or, if you have a computer, send emails to those who would love to hear from you.
6. Take a day to take care of one of your own needs
Surely there is something you have been putting off. Take a day to get it done. This day may not be spent romping on the beach, but if you finally get that basement cleaned out you’ll feel so much better. Or if it has been too long since you have seen your dentist or other healthcare professional, make that appointment and consider it as part of the day you are doing something important for yourself.
7. Give to those who are in dire circumstances
Look around and realize how much more fortunate you are than most people. Even those of us who have very little still have a great deal more than millions of people around the world with no place to live and little food to eat. Take whatever you can afford and give it to charities that help people in drastic need. Even if you don’t have a lot to give, every dollar, every item of food and clothing, or even a single toy that you give to help others will make a positive difference in someone’s life.
8. Take time to evaluate your financial situation
Go through your checkbooks and charge account statements so that you can take an honest look at the ways you are spending your money. For most of us these days, spending our money wisely is a priority. You will sleep better every night during the beautiful summer evenings, if you know that you are putting your financial life in order. While you may not be able to buy everything you want, and you may have to tell the kids you are all going to take a less expensive vacation, you will have more fun knowing that you are taking a vacation that you can really afford, and won’t have to spend the next five years paying for it.
As we give and take we find true happiness. Summer is a time to enjoy all the beauty our wonderful world has to offer. Step outside in the evening and gaze at the moon and stars. Swim in the lakes, rivers and oceans. Hug the ones you love and be grateful for all the blessings that have been given to you in this life. And as you experience the special qualities of your life, let your love flow out to others. Give to those in need and you will be taking a huge step towards your own personal happiness this summerâ€¦ and all year long.
Â©2009 Carole Lynne, author of Cosmic Connection: Messages for a Better World