The holiday season always prompts me to take inventory of what matters most and whether the life I am leading on a daily basis reflects my values and my beliefs.
By Casey Carlucci DeCola, LMSW
The holiday season always prompts me to take inventory of what matters most and whether the life I am leading on a daily basis reflects my values and my beliefs. In my heart, I believe the world around me is in need of positive change and that, in order for change to happen, we must all do our part.
I start to think: What are the things that need to be changed? What would change look like? How do we get there? What part do I play? Before I overwhelm myself with the magnitude of items in need of attention, I think in terms of finding manageable ways to make a difference. For each of us, this will look different.
When we think of service, we think of giving back through time, talent, or financial support. We volunteer at a local organization and commit to donating our time and see how best that time can be utilized to help effect change. If we have a talent that stands out, it can be used to bring attention to an issue and inspire others to get involved. Those with financial resources can help fund programs that support the work they feel passionately about.
The most important message is that everyone has something to offer and everyone can make a difference.
Service learning, fundraising, and volunteerism provide invaluable opportunities to impact the health and well being of communities and those involved in the efforts. However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that what we choose to do each and every moment of our lives — how we act or don’t act — also makes a difference. It is whether we welcome a new member to the community and make them feel comfortable; it is choosing to abstain from gossip and idle chatter; it is believing that each and every one of us has something positive to contribute to our community; and it is standing up for what you believe in even when you are not taking the most popular stance. It is practicing daily compassion, using your voice and your words wisely, honoring others and yourself, and advocating for those who need someone to stand up for them.
Service to others is something that each of us takes part in every day of our lives. Whether engaging in service to others in small, meaningful ways or in formal, outward, and visible ways, each of us is an agent of change. What we do matters. When you choose to act compassionately, when you put away the technological gadgets and give someone your undivided time and attention, when you decide to walk away rather than engage in an argument, when you choose to listen to the need of someone else and find a way to help, you are engaging in service to others.
Each and every act matters. We must realize the power we hold in our hearts to effect change and we must use this power wisely, for what we choose to do may inspire others to follow suit.
Imagine what our homes, our places of worship, our places of employment, our schools, our community, as well as the world around us would look like if we each acknowledged and practiced the common goal of peace and service to others.
The author is Director of Teen Services/HS Advocate of the Rye Youth Council.