Contribution. It’s an important piece in the formula for a full and happy life, and one that often gets overlooked in seminars about how to be successful. Work your butt off to become independently wealthy and spend your days sipping margaritas on a sandy tropical beach, or maybe travel America in your RV hitting all of the most scenic locations and enjoying million dollar views from the comfort of your living room, and I’m betting sooner or later, it’ll still get old. Just ask all of the millionaires who seem to have it all but still aren’t happy.
The missing ingredient is contribution. Deep down, we don’t just want to be financially well off, although it certainly is a worthwhile goal. We also want to make a difference in the world around us.
No one wants to die alone, and at some level we all want to leave our mark behind when we go. When I graduated college and got a ‘real’ job in my field as a veterinary technician, I was expecting to feel like I was making a difference. And yeah, I did to some degree, but working in the private sector of the research industry what I could do to help was limited by available funds.
Some people (my parents probably included) think that I can’t make nearly as much of a contribution to society doing what I do now – traveling around the country taking seasonal jobs and exploring. But I’m here to say there is more than one way to contribute, one size does not fit all.
Some may decide to donate to charities. Others will volunteer for meaningful causes. Still others may donate their time by performing or making artwork, or see a need in their community and decide to start a business to fulfill it. And many will decide to start a family (yes, I’d say that raising children is another way to contribute towards a brighter future).
It doesn’t even need to be elaborate or require a lot of planning. Making a habit of performing random acts of kindness for strangers in need is a form of contribution. And I’ll say that teaching is one of the highest forms of contribution around. Teaching as a profession is probably what comes to your mind first, but it doesn’t need to be anything so formal as that.
Chances are you can do something that someone you know would love to know how to do. Take a little time to share your knowledge and experience with others and see what kind of difference it can make – not only in the world at large but also within yourself. Contributing feels good. Especially when you do it from the kindness of your heart and expect nothing in return.
Next time you’re feeling like there’s something missing from your life, turn the focus from you and try doing something for someone else. You may be surprised by the results.
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It’s been windy, cold, and/or stormy the past week or so, not the best weather for adventuring but it does make for some great photo opportunities of another sort. All the pictures in this post were taken this past Monday the 27th, the first one was the start of the second hail storm to grace the Badlands that day, the second two were taken a couple hours later at sunset as when the sun shone in underneath the rain and set the clouds on fire, it was breathtaking.
All three were taken at Circle 10 Campground, where I am now officially in residence until the end of the season. It’s about 9 miles from the Lodge, just outside of the park boundaries near Interstate 90. I may not get a view of the Badlands here and I do get some noise from the interstate, but on the plus side it has trees as visible in these photos and the wind doesn’t seem to get as bad here as it did down in the Cedar Pass campground. Oh, and I have water and sewer hookups, also an important consideration!
Despite the bad weather, things were also just dry enough to make a moonlight hike possible last weekend, and while it wasn’t bright enough to get any pictures it was plenty bright enough for the naked eye to see things. The landscape looked even more alien and intriguing without the colors, and if you happen to be visiting during a full moon I highly recommend the experience.
The next few days seem to be trending upward in temperature again, with less of a chance for rain. If the weather cooperates, I’m definitely going to be hitting up the Black Hills region during my ‘weekend’ on Monday and Tuesday. Until then, safe travels and happy trails.
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