As entrepreneurs, we have the ability to impact the lives of others in a positive way. I’m not saying a fancy car and materialistic possessions are a bad thing -- everyone desires them and they serve as a form of motivation.
But in the grand scheme of things, they are just things. While they will always provide gratification to some degree, I encourage you to also seek out ways to experience non-materialistic gratification, starting with these examples.
1. Volunteer at a local homeless shelter.
I have a very soft spot in my heart for the homeless and that stems from watching my dad always go out of his way to put a bite to eat in their hands. There is one statistic that is really mind blowing though, and that is the fact that one in 45 children experience homelessness each year in the U.S.
That means more than 2 percent of the children in the U.S. are in a situation that they have no control over and could use a positive and influential figure in their life. Volunteering for a couple hours a week and making an effort to interact can bring a smile to a young child that, at the current time, doesn’t have a whole lot to smile about.
2. Donate your time at a nursing home.
There are more than 1.4 million nursing home residents, and sadly some of them don’t have immediate family. This means they don’t have much interaction with the outside world -- they interact with their caregivers on a daily basis, but that’s about it.
Give up a couple hours of your time and serve lunch or dinner to the residents -- or make the rounds and visit a few patients. You will meet war veterans, former business owners and all kinds of different personalities. I guarantee you will make new friends, hear some amazing stories and make a lot of people happy.
3. Sponsor the birthday of a child in need.
I’m a firm believer that no child should be forgotten on his or her birthday and during the holiday season. While Toys for Tots is a great organization to get toys into the hands of deserving children during the holiday season, the best option for birthdays is to contact local organizations.
A few phone calls to after-school programs and youth groups will typically turn up some options. Something as simple as a $100 donation can help supply a cake, ice cream, balloons, decorations and a gift to a child that would otherwise not celebrate his or her birthday.
4. Donate to a charitable organization.
Think for a moment -- what is one cause that you are extremely passionate about? We all have at least one. Personally, I like to support organizations that fight cancer. My dad was taken from us way too early because of the disease. Baseball was such a huge part of our family, so Strike Out Cancer T-shirts are naturally one my favorite causes to support.
Every single dollar that these organizations receive adds up, so even if you can only donate a few dollars, do it. The feeling you get inside is the same, whether you are donating $20 or $20,000. A portion of revenue from my latest venture will be donated to cancer research charities.
5. Become a big brother or big sister.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is the largest volunteer-based youth mentoring organization, and you can impact the future of a child by volunteering just a few hours a month. Kids are the future and the odds are stacked against many of them.
By serving as a positive influence, you could take a previously troubled child and point them in the right direction. No car, watch or materialistic object will give you the same gratification as watching a child that you influenced go on to do great things in life. If you don’t have the time to volunteer, you can donate, with options starting as low as $25.
What are some other sources of non-materialistic gratification? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.