Donating Our Time

 Donating Our Time

        A common complaint one hears everywhere is,“I don’t have time to…”,or, conversely,  “I have so much going on right now”. Without denying that everyone’s lives are busy, it is vital to our communities that we volunteer our time because there are always struggling people who need services.  

If you have children or grandchildren, find an organization such as a Food Bank or a church where they can participate. It will be an eye-opening experience for them where they will gain an appreciation for and understanding of their community. Whether the time devoted is great or small, it will be rewarding for everyone involved. Volunteering in an area that is different from your occupation can open doors to new learning experiences and new people that  will enrich your life. We truly learn about our community and its’ needs when we get involved rather than read about it in the news. In this way, we become an active part of the community and can make a difference. Although you are not getting paid, there is an assigned dollar value to your time. According to The Business Times in 2012, “one estimated dollar value of volunteer time is $21.36 per hour. According to one estimate from the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 63.4 million Americans — nearly 27 percent of the adult population — contribute a collective 8.1 billion hours of volunteer service worth $169 billion a year.” That’s a lot of volunteer hours! This is terrific, yet more involvement is needed.

Search locally online, in newspapers, churches, community centers, local schools and organizations to find what interests you and there will be an opportunity.

The rewards are many:

  • Knowing that you are contributing to your community

  • Acquiring new skills

  • Enriching your life and the lives of others

  • Making new friends and social connections

  • Setting a great example for your children and grandchildren

  • Connecting with your community

As a child, I observed my parents and relatives volunteering and gradually came to participate in these church and community activities. I am sure I had my share of grumbling when asked to volunteer, however, my father and I used to talk about the fact that we remember all those experiences and that they became a part of the fabric of our life and helped us to consider others before ourselves.




Phone Addiction

                          Phone Addiction

The phone has become more than a communication device; it is the personal computer, the calendar, and the information hub in our lives. It is common to see people on the phone all the time, oblivious of their surroundings and others. Individuals are using their phones when driving a car, walking on the sidewalk, waiting in line at the grocery store,  and even during mealtimes. It appears to be the norm now to be on the phone rather than conversing with others. There is even a term for it now: phubbing. Phubbing refers to snubbing others in favor of the mobile phone. No one can argue that the mobile phone is an  excellent tool to connect us, to check the internet and to check our email. It directs us in traffic, it helps us locate a gas station and it alerts others that we need assistance. It helps business owners conduct transactions when not in the office.

But have we let it take over our lives?

More and more research demonstrates that long term use of the cell phone, and computer has harmful effects on youngsters and adults. It harms relationships, creates anxiety, increases resentment, increases depression and increases loneliness. It becomes an addiction.

The definition of addiction from the American Society of Addiction Medicine is: Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations.

Here’s how it works: We hear a “beep” notification from the phone alerting us that someone has emailed, texted, or posted something on facebook. We pick up the phone, check it out and may think, “Oh that’s neat.” We get little “brain rewards” when we are on the phone; checking email, searching the web and looking at facebook. This motivates us to keep checking the phone throughout the day. Our brain “remembers” these little biscuits and we want more. So, we keep checking the phone, social media and internet. Sometimes we spend so much time on the internet that we neglect our own self care needs.

Research also reveals that the  perception that we are connecting with friends via internet does not replace actual live human connections. The less human contact we have with each other isolates us and increases depression, anxiety and loneliness. The phone/internet addiction adds to the loss of real relationships. It also lowers self esteem, increases resentment and compounds the loss of original and creative thoughts.

A balance can be achieved with the use of the phone/internet and other areas of our lives. Very simple changes can be implemented. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Turn off notifications.

  2. Use an old fashioned alarm clock instead of your phone.

  3. Stop use of all electronics one hour before bedtime.

  4. Avoid bringing the phones to the table at meal times.

  5. Connect with nature.

  6. Arrange friends/family game night.

  7. Place the phone in your desk drawer at work or keep it in your briefcase/purse.

  8. Make eye contact with others when talking with them.

  9. Have lunch with an friend.

If you find yourself struggling to keep the phone on a table away from you  and scoff at the above suggestions, consider that you may have an excessive attachment to your phone (made of metal and plastic). The phone cannot console you, it cannot hug you and it cannot provide the essential aspects of human connection (eye contact, affection, empathy, friendship, compassion).  Interact with the people and life around you as opposed to letting the phone rule your life. Remember it is tool and just a tool.