“No one has ever become poor by giving” — Anne Frank

For as long as I can remember, there was an idea rooted deep inside my mind. Mostly inspired by my mother, it was that it doesn’t matter how tough you think your life is because there will always be someone in the world whose challenges and difficulties are far greater than yours. The trick to living a happy and content life while finding the best way to face your difficulties is by looking for people who are troubled, distressed, or in need and making an effort to help them out.

Believe me when I say this, but that feeling of satisfaction, accomplishment and pure happiness that follows when you help someone in a difficult situation or when you give back to society in some appropriate way is one of the best feelings ever. Giving back to the society is without any doubt among the most valuable and important ways one can make a positive impact starting on an individual level.

It seems as though most modern people think that the only way they can give back to society is by giving small or large sums of money to charities. Even though this is one important way or part of giving back, as charities often have a reach beyond the individual level, it isn’t the only way. I have been participating in different social events of this kind all my life and the best feeling that I get is when I am able to get a smile on anyone’s face, and help them be healthier, do better, or just be happy. I have listed a few activities below in which you can volunteer and give back to the society by helping people out and spreading happiness.

1. Visiting retirement homes

Just for a few hours a month, I recommend visiting any of the nursing homes near your house. Ask the staff is there is anything you can do to help — often just sitting with the residents and listening to their stories is a start. Sometimes these people don’t have enough interaction from the outside world, or by their folks. Aside from the idea of connecting with different people, while helping out you can learn how these homes work, be a hero to someone for making sure they get from one spot safely to the next, and you will end up being apart of a community that remembers you by name faster than you think!

2. High school or College experiences

You will have a ton of opportunities in your high school in which you can participate and organize social welfare programs. If you do something in a group, often times you can reach beyond the individual and impact more people or a group of people in a positive manner. My suggestion to get started is to get a group of your close friends together, include other students in it as well if you can, and organize charitable programs such as charity football matches, where you sell tickets and donate the funds to charity, or a volunteer food drive for the homeless.

3. Blood donation

This one is quick and often easy — It doesn’t cost a dime and literally saves a life. On another note, donate your old books, clothes, and useful items to organizations like goodwill, if you can!

4. Animal Shelters

Image Courtesy of Little House Animal Shelter

Often in big city neighborhoods, you’ll see stray dogs. Sometimes they have an owner, and have just gotten out, and sometimes they have been living on the streets for months or years. If you see them, I don’t suggest going up to them directly — instead, I suggest looking online for a no-kill animal shelter, or a rescue organization. Call them and let them know the situation, and they will come and rescue the dog to give it a better life.

All in all, these are just some of the examples I could think of inspired by my own personal experiences. There are a number of other ways to make a positive impact, such as volunteering out at a local animal shelter, giving food to the homeless, cleaning up your neighborhood, the Big Brother program, and many others. Putting smiles on other people’s faces, learning new things, creating a meaningful connection with people and hearing interesting stories are just some of the things that you’ll enjoy while volunteering at different social welfare events.

Originally published at medium.com