My alarm jolted me into an abrupt state of consciousness.
I pulled my exhausted self out of bed and stood up to great the pitch black room.
I glanced at the illuminated numbers on the clock…4:45am.
On a Saturday.
I groaned as I struggled to remind myself why I had chosen to put myself through this torture, (on purpose), when I could be lying safely snug in my bed, cocooned and harbored from life for at least three more hours.
Then I remembered The Girls.
And joy propelled me to get moving and leave my self-absorbed drama behind.
I was getting up to volunteer for The Girls on the Run 5k where more than 800 little girls would proudly run 3.1 miles and graduate a program designed to empower them for the future.
Many in tutu’s.
And getting over myself, out of my head, and focused on others…feels good. It feels joyful.
But it’s so hard to do sometimes.
Why do we resist doing the things that bring us Joy when we know the effort is well worth the minor pivot in focus?
Why do we prefer to wallow in our burnt-toastness and wait for the funk to lift?
Blame biology and psychology.
Classic hallmark signs of burnout include lack of motivation and exhaustion. (Throw in a dose of cynicism, frustration, and difficulty coping and viola’ you are toast.)
But the easiest way out of the syndrome, is to push past the desire to hibernate.
You must be bold, and do.
Need more convincing?
How about these facts:
- Helping Others will Make you Feel Great. When you help others the mesolimbic system (that’s your reward system) gives you a positive boost and a nice cocktail of feel good chemicals. It’s a win-win. You help others, you feel better.
- Giving to Others can Give you a Self-Esteem Boost. People who volunteer have a higher self-esteem and overall well-being. Because we increase feelings of social-connectedness, we increase our view of our self-worth and our self-esteem. Guess what else? The more you volunteer consistently, the higher the self-esteem return.
- You will Create Stronger Friendships. Helping others increases your positive vibes which nurtures your personal relationships. People WANT to be around you more. You ooze goodness by being altruistic and others want some of that to rub off on them.
- Your Feelings of Optimism Increase. Having a positive impact on others can give your own outlook on life a positive spin. Bonus, your mood almost always increases. Joyfully giving to others is a free Get-Out-Of-Funk card.
- You will Naturally Feel More Empowered. Volunteering not only enriches your sense of purpose but it can leave you feeling more rewarded and fulfilled. Your confidence grows the more you repeat the action. How about that win-win combination?
So I pushed myself forward and out into the early dawn to do good for The Girls.
After the race, I met Jasmine. She was eight. I stopped to ask her if I could take a picture of her Wonder Woman cape because it inspired me.
I told Jasmine that I write for grown-up women to help them feel more empowered.
I asked her if she had any advice for what grown-ups could do to feel good.
“Be kind.” she said.
“It just feels good.”
My burnt-toasty self would agree.