SOUL FUEL COLUMNIST: Kim Forrester reflects on the tireless work of our ANZA volunteers ahead of next month’s VOYA event.

Next month, we honour the volunteers who hold the ANZA community together at VOYA (nominate here). Giving of ourselves to others in our community is not just a pleasant and honourable trait, it is the very foundation of human society.
Ever since our early ancestors walked on the African savannah, hundreds of thousands of years ago, it is cooperation that has bound communities together. In fact, throughout human history, it has been the most cooperative societies that have thrived. Put simply, we, as a species, have achieved all that we have because of the willingness of individuals to share their skills and talents for the good of the wider community.
Just as our ANZA volunteers share their time, energy and wisdom with us, now.
There are real benefits to giving to others. Studies have shown that volunteering induces a “warm glow” effect in our brains, leaving us feeling happier, more trusting and more uplifted. Those who give of themselves also enjoy stronger social connections, a greater sense of purpose and, incredibly, longer lives.
Of course, in our demanding world, it’s not always easy to be generous with your time, energy or money. But don’t underestimate the impact you can make by being more forthcoming with other valuable assets.
Even if you are unable to volunteer in a more traditional sense, there are other ways you can give of yourself and enhance the lives of the people around you. You, as an individual, have an incredible and valuable effect on our community when you choose to be generous with:

YOUR PRAISE. We are intrinsically wired to seek and respond to positive feedback from others. So, when you choose to openly compliment or praise someone it has a wonderful effect on their mood and, by extension, the people in their life. When you see something you like, experience something enjoyable or notice something extraordinary… speak up! Tell people if they have done a great job; share a compliment if someone or something impresses you; write an email of appreciation if you have received excellent service.

YOUR SMILE. You may be unaware of the magic in your smile but studies have shown that your beautiful grin is stress-relieving, attractive and delightfully contagious. One simple way to give to others around you is to consciously smile throughout your day. This practice may not be completely effortless – you may have to train yourself to smile more often – but the value of your grin cannot be underestimated.

YOUR ATTENTION. This is not necessarily about giving up time to spend with others but about ensuring that, when you spend time with others, you are interested in them; you are curious, present, willing to listen. It’s about choosing to talk less, and listen more.

Not everyone has the capacity to volunteer, but there is something we can all give to others, at any time. Our gratitude. So, to those who give up their time, energy and creativity for the ANZA community, I say “I see you. And thank you”.

To nominate a member of the community, please click here.

Kim Forrester is a holistic wellbeing author, consultant and educator.