Why does it feel good to make a difference?

The world is such a big and beautiful place, sometimes I get all weird and can’t believe that I actually live on the planet, in the universe surrounded by all these other planets. Do you ever think about that? I catch myself sometimes and have to stop before I question my entire existence. As much as the world is beautiful, it’s inevitably full of tragedy and dark events that really overpower a lot of the incredible things the world has to offer. Because of that, there are so many extremes in our day to day lives that we now seem to have become accustom to. It’s unfortunate that the negativity, global attacks and culture wars are no longer a shock or surprise to us yas they are announced. It’s almost like the whole world are holding their breath, waiting for the next report.

So really, in a world like this, how do we as individuals really make a difference? How do we put a stop to the negativity and expand the positivity? The black eyed peas song “where is the love?” has been on replay in my head for longer than I can even remember. When that song was released, I never could have predicted how ‘the love’ that they refer to could diminish further than it had at that time.

The purpose of me writing this is not to insult you and attempt to educate you on what’s wrong with our world, nor to tell you how to fix it. I’m here to express my personal feelings on hope. We all know that when hope is lost, all is lost. That’s just the way it goes. Fortunately, I see a lot of hope, every single day. And it comes in all different forms. Much of it is unrelated to the worldwide trauma, which in itself is a blessing. There’s hope of better futures, there’s so many people coming together to raise awareness of incredible causes, there are people pushing themselves to their physical limits to inspire others to take action. Everybody is realising that they have a voice and something to contribute, and at this stage any small difference is worlds better then the latter.

It fills me with happiness to see all of the JustGiving stories and positive challenges people put themselves forward for. This current day and age is all about contribution, if you’re not thinking about what you can do to add a little positivity and hope to the world, you’re missing a trick! Not only have my little contributions made a difference to the causes I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside, but the sense of fulfilment it gives is a feeling like no other. I’m sure a lot of you will agree. Yes, it feels unbelievable to challenge yourself and a group of friends to do something you might otherwise “give a miss” – but the real excitement comes from the build up and at the end when you’re totalling up what you’ve raised. This amount, of course, is a drop in the ocean compared to what’s needed. But that’s what making a difference is all about, lots of people doing a little bit each.

If you’re sitting on the fence about what exactly to put yourself forward for, I’d recommend combining it with something you’ve always wanted to do, but (deep down) don’t quite believe you’ve got the willpower. I’ll tell you one thing, knowing that by completing what you set out to do will have a incredible impact on who you’re raising money for is enough to make you put one foot in front of the other in the moments want to give up.

I’ve been lucky enough to do a few things that I may never had done had a cause not been involved. The most challenging by far was cycling from Leicester to Paris in 4 days – with very minimal training. A word of advice? Train your butt off before you attempt this! I was in agony in more places than one for way longer than I thought possible for what felt like months after. I literally could not look at another bicycle (and I’m still pretty terrified of spinning classes). Actually, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I’ve only got onto an actual bicycle 3 times since the bike ride – and that was 3 years ago! Each of those four days was a struggle beyond belief. But something weird happened quite early into the ride, that developed over the next 4 days.

You might have experienced this feeling when you’ve faced your own challenges, and in this situation it happened to me on about the 4th hour of cycling. Prior to this, I had never before been on a bike in the rolling hills of England for four hours. Ever! My thighs were burning, my shins were in agony, my hands were cramping from grabbing onto the handlebars for dear life, my bum – let’s not even go there. It was just hideous! But I realised in that moment, that I’d gone further than I’d ever gone in my life, and there was absolutely no way that I was about to turn around and cycle my sore bottom back to Leicester. There were three reasons for this; a) I had made a commitment to my friend and her chosen charity, so I was not about to give up so easily, b) if I could cycle this far, surely I could push myself to keep going, c) I didn’t know the way home!

The moment I realised this, something shifted in my mind. The only thing I can compare it to is Iron Man putting his suit on and preparing for battle, it was game on! I could see the end result in my head, and I was going to get there (albeit internally kicking and screaming). Although this is a extreme version of the “battle suit” – I have used this mentality so many times since then to help me through difficult situations and didn’t even know it. My mentor refers to it as “rhino skin”. For example, if someone gets a toothpick and jabs it into your forearm, that is going to hurt! Instant pain and it may even draw blood and leave a scar. If you instead you poked the toothpick at a thicker part of your skin, like the bottom of your heel (you all know what I’m talking about!!) It’s going to hurt significantly less. If you used that same toothpick and prodded it into the skin of a rhino, it wouldn’t hurt a bit, in fact, the toothpick would splinter and snap. This is the mental “skin” that we develop when it gets to fight or flight mode. Yes, of course it can be used for extreme physical activity, but this can also be used and channeled in a way that helps us get past those mental blocks that we sometimes cause for ourselves.

I guess my point is that putting yourself in a position that feels uncomfortable is much easier if you know that as a result somebody else will get rewarded. It’s easy for us to give up on our dreams and convince ourselves that it wasn’t important to us any anyway. Let me tell you, it’s much more difficult to let somebody down who needs you. I believe that these acts of contribution work both ways, it’s an extremely positive act to the person or organisation on the receiving end, yet the to the person contributing, it’s a feeling that lasts a lifetime.

Thanks for reading

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