For the past 37 days, I have been focused on seeing ways in which my life is a gift to others. What I learned was that small things, even things that seem inconsequential, really do add up and make a difference to those around me. Sometimes it was something as simple as making the coffee for my coworkers, or paying a small favor forward to someone else. Sometimes it was listening and comforting a friend who was feeling down. Sometimes it was performing "labors of love", like cooking or cleaning for my kids, or teaching them about manners and boundaries through tough love. Sometimes it involved being generous with my time or money in order to make someone's day. And sometimes it involved doing things for myself, such as eating healthy, working out or relaxing, so that by taking care of myself I was better prepared to take care of my family.
There's a lot of times when we all feel unappreciated and that what we do doesn't matter, but it does. Sometimes it's just a matter of changing the way we look at what we do; for example, cooking and cleaning might just seem like chores, but if I didn't do those things for my kids, they would go hungry and live in filth. Performing those chores is an expression of my love for them, and my gift to them is making sure that they are healthy and well taken care of. Far too often I've seen what can happen to children whose parents don't feel the same way. Working out may have been a gift to myself, but it was in fact a gift to my family because when the time comes for my strength and fortitude, I'll be in good enough shape to do whatever needs to be done and can take care of them. I've seen other family members purposely not take care of themselves and become a burden.
What I took away from this project was that what I do for others is what gives my life meaning and purpose. I wasn't put on this planet to only serve myself and simply exist from day to day for my own benefit; I was put here to be a blessing to my own little corner of the world, and I reap blessings from others in return.
If you've been wondering what your purpose is, or where you fit in the world, give the 37 Days of Gifts project a try and see just how much of an impact your life has on others.