Recently, R who volunteers with us came over to give us sweets over the news that he had secured an AIR 3 in the UPSC exams. R has been volunteering with us for about 2 years now. He attributed his success to volunteering since he had come   to know of the ground realities and learn a lot of things at the field level. This is not a one-off case. I have heard others who have quit lucrative jobs to go back to their smaller towns to run their own business. All they have to say is that Seva gave them the courage to follow their heart. It may have just strengthened their desire, but there is something about working in this field that transforms you more than you can transform the society.

We were talking about this at work today and it sure gave me a ray of hope amidst all the negative things we are getting to read! May be, just may be, connecting people to society at large can help us solve the mishappenings to some extent?  It does make you feel better to know there are youth like these too who are not only doing their bit for the society, but even trying to get into and cleanse the system as a whole.

So, I thought I would dedicate today’s ‘Ten on Tuesday‘ to how volunteering changes you for the better.  Like Swami Vivekananda put it, ‘Things are not bettered, but we are bettered, by making changes in them.’

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  • The Joy of Giving, like everybody puts it. At the end of the day, even a small act of kindness makes you feel so contented.
  • One thing that volunteering definitely teaches you is Patience. No, the child you are teaching is not going to score 100 the year you start teaching or the roads are not going to free of all the plastic the moment you start cleaning them. But the very fact that you have made a beginning gives you so much satisfaction!
  • So many of our misconceptions are cleared when we actually start working at the ground level! We actually begin to see beyond what the media shows us and get to know things better. I have written so many posts about this before. One example here.
  • You actually look for solutions rather than cribbing about problems! Your outlook changes in a way that you first start thinking about what you can do to prevent it rather than brooding over the how and why of it. One of our volunteers was recently recollecting how hearing about any child marriage/dowry case meant blaming the society before while we now actually try to think of how and where we can pitch in. This definitely awakens the optimist in you!
  • Discovering yourself – You actually get to know a lot more about yourself when you start connecting with different strata of the society. What your actual calling is, what your strengths and weaknesses are and so on. People even tell us they have overcome their shyness, improved their language skills too 🙂
  • Humility – Meeting people who are working for the better of others in the remotest parts of the country makes your efforts feel so humble.
  • Gratitude – Seeing people smiling in the most adverse conditions makes you feel so grateful for all that you have.
  • Helps develop an altruistic and sustainable way of living. There are so many who come and tell us they have overcome their fears, gotten over certain bad habits and so on.
  • You feel part of one large family, cutting through all the barriers of caste, creed and class. You learn to not only co-exist but enrich your experiences by embracing diversity and working as one.
  • Being Good and Doing Good – Swami Vivekananda said that ‘To be good and do good is the whole of religion’. It sometimes becomes easier to do good but not be good. How cool it feels to tell people to use resources conservatively, how easy is it to tell kids to eat nutritious food? Well, volunteering helps us do a reality check because you constantly keep questioning yourself if you are being the change you wish to see.

Am not sure if this made any sense at all, but talking about this today made me feel  positive and that there is still scope for change. That the nation we are blaming so easily thanks to some people who are a part of her, also has others who are striving to revive her past glory!

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