When we contemplate the big questions in life, we often wonder what’s the meaning of life is and what our role is in it. While there are many possible explanations (you can read ours here), our conclusion leads us to a single profound idea – we are bigger than us. We often end our contemplation by asking how to contribute to society.
As we go through the list of problems that our society is facing, we are often daunted by the sheer size and complexity of the issues. When we look at the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals, it's hard not to feel overwhelmed about it.
While big impacts are alluring and can change the way we live, even small contributions to the world can lead to big impacts. We don’t have to change the world in 1 day. In fact, most changes that are lasting and worthwhile actually take time.
And time is another challenge. For many of us, finding the time to dedicate towards change may not be an option. We may lack the skillset, resources, freedom, etc. to pursue the actions that contribute to society in a big way.
However, there are many ways to contribute to society in small ways, as you live your life. Here are some tips on how to contribute to society:
Make life better for someone you care about
Contributing to society does not have to be complex. We can simply start by making the lives of our loved ones better. Supporting our spouse, encouraging our children, helping our parents, being there for our friends – are all worthy contributions to society.
It is important to remember that each drop in the bucket counts. No contribution is more or less. We are all here for a purpose – to make a difference. And your purpose can be as simple as making a difference within your family or friends. Or the community. And no matter how small or big, remember that contribution is worthy in its own right.
Help someone younger than you or someone who has less experience than you. Creating a meaningful impact on one person is also a significant contribution to society. That one person can change the situation for the better for an entire family or community.
Mentorship can be formal where you partner with an NGO or it can also be informal – at work or at school where you help someone who reaches out to you.
When your life situation does not allow you to help anyone in any formalized structure, there is a simple way to contribute to society – by practicing kindness. We believe that kindness can be a powerful force that can change many lives. Being kind, though it sounds simple, is not easy. It requires complete submission to the purpose and giving up on being right.
Be it your family, colleague, customer service, or simply someone who cuts you off on the road, show kindness, and truly let their behavior go. Let the pregnant woman carrying a lot move up in the line, and say “no problem” to the flustered customer service representative who needs to check with the supervisor for authorization.
No matter what the day brings, be kind to the people you encounter. People are profoundly influenced by simple, daily acts of kindness. You are making the world a better place by just being kind to others.
Send positive vibes
The entire world is vibrating at different frequencies. When you meditate and send positive vibrations to the world, you help shape the outcome of the world. There are many scientific research studies that show evidence of the way the world reacts to a multitude of people meditating.
There are many scientific bodies that perform such meditations of positive energy. One of them is Heartmath Institute and its Global Coherence Meditations. You can become an emissary and contribute to society by just being in a certain state of mind and sending positive vibes to the world.
When we practice gratitude, we send strong positive vibrations to the world. It impacts not just those physically around us but also those included in our gratitude affirmation.
Gratitude is one of the strongest positive emotions and can contribute greatly to the betterment of society.
This may seem like an oddball tip, but when you pay taxes, you give the government the resources not just to build the infrastructure and govern effectively, but also to the government support programs, NGOs that depend on funding.
Depending on where you live, the government employs hundreds of thousands of people each year and their livelihood depends on you paying your taxes. Even our troops defending our country can only survive when we pay what is due.
So simply by paying your taxes, you are contributing to society.
Invest in learning
When we invest in learning, we are not just investing and helping the person who is teaching us but also uplifting the entire family that will be positively impacted by your knowledge. When women learn how to care for their babies, infant mortality rates go down. When someone learns about culture and history, they contribute to a more just and fair society. When a science student discovers how to turn seawater into freshwater that is consumable, they contribute to society as a whole. All of this is only possible when we invest in learning and apply our knowledge for the betterment of society.
Be uniquely you
It sounds simple enough. But just by being who you are, you are contributing to society. We are all here on this planet for a reason. We’ve been created with our unique characteristics, habits, and behaviors. No one is really quite like us. For a good reason. The world needs you to be, well, you. If you try to be someone you are not, you are not fulfilling your purpose of being here. Sometimes, the bravest thing you can do to contribute to society is to be yourself – authentically so.
This one is the most common way to give back to society – volunteer with a local NGO. Find a cause that you truly believe in and that is close to your heart. Volunteer with the NGO that lives that purpose and helps them out.
Share the good
Share the good things in life that you already have. Be it your humor, lovely smile or even a good article you come across on contributing to the world. When you share the good in your life, you actively contribute to society. There is also enough evidence that givers in general not only have more but are also happier and more content than those who don’t. So share the good in your life, contribute to society and then watch the good in life grow.
Support small businesses
You can also contribute to society by supporting small businesses. There are many reasons to support small businesses. To name a few, small businesses care about the community, often have a low carbon footprint, create local jobs, spark creativity and innovation while directly impacting the society they operate in.
Care for the planet
One of the most significant ways to contribute to society is by caring for the planet. Our planet, our home, is already in crisis. We are not just utilizing all the resources on the planet but leaving in its wake a lot of non-biodegradable plastic and waste. While the problem is massive, there are many small things that we can do to make an impact and save our planet.
Carry a bag: It's simple as that. Carry a bag with you whenever you go shopping. Preferably cloth bags. Keep them in your car, in your purse, at work, and at home. They are affordable and take up no room or add any weight to your backpack. When you shop, accept no extra bags of any kind. You are bound to save a lot of plastic and save many trees with this simple act.
Travel less: We all love traveling, however, not taking a flight is the easiest way to contribute to society. There are many small steps you can take to make your travel more eco-friendly.
Use less plastic: Choose eco-friendly packaging for any items you buy. Choose the paper box for your butter instead of the plastic box, carry your own water bottle instead of buying one, and buy metal objects instead of plastic.
Sort your trash: It's that simple. Make an effort to find out what trash belongs where. A simple Google search can also help in saving tonnes of unrecycled waste just because you did not sort it right.
Recycle and reuse: There are many things you can do to reuse and recycle. There are many articles to help you through it. Just by upcycling and reusing things that you might be bored of, can contribute to saving significant resources and the planet.
Plant trees: We are using more space than ever before, clearing out our trees at an alarming rate. Plant a tree and nurture it, pay it forward to the next generation.
Use public transport and bikes to reduce the consumption of non-renewable sources of energy.
Eat less meat: Reducing the consumption of meat can go a long way in reducing the carbon footprint and can contribute towards a greener society.
Adopt a pet
While this one may not be very simple, it is worth mentioning. Adopting a pet will not just help them, but also help you. Having pets around the house can be a very fulfilling experience. Be it a dog, cat, bird, rabbit, fish or a gerbil, pets can ground us and center us in ways we cannot imagine. If you are unsure, you can talk to an animal shelter and understand what it truly entails to adopt a pet.