How To Be Happy: Give Without Giving Up

“I wish I could do something like that but I just don’t have the time!”

said every person ever.

Dedicating some of your time and energy to a good cause sounds so ideal to many, but it’s often dismissed–staying just an ideal and not becoming a reality. Whether we’re spending our time working, going through school, interning, running never-ending errands, or doing chores around the house, it seems like there’s no time to squeeze in something that doesn’t have a direct and immediate impact on our lives. Things we all would love to do we just don’t seem to have time for anymore, including giving back to others.

Hey! Cheer up, busy bee! Doing something that makes you feel good isn’t an added stress, it’s a stress reliever! As impossible as it may seem in your life right now, it is entirely possible to lead the giving lifestyle you’ve been yearning to lead without sacrificing a thing that you’ll miss. Do you want to know how and why?

When you’re giving your time to something you’re passionate about and that you really love, it doesn’t feel like you’re giving up anything at all.

About a year ago, I needed a life pick-me-up… I was growing increasingly tired of the “me”-driven behavior that naturally reigns supreme in my collegiate age group. The circumstances surrounding growing up lead us to act in this way, but it’s just not who I am. So, I began my personal endeavor to start donating my time and efforts to places that could use it more than, say, …Facebook.

As a busy college student, I started with a very small commitment that I actually did not complete until recently:

Bye bye, mermaid hair! Hello, Locks of Love! My “Before” and “After”

Since that time last year I tried my hardest to grow my hair out to straggly mermaid lengths, getting it chopped off and donated to Locks of Love just last week. This organization, using hair donations of minimally 10 inches, makes wigs for children suffering from long-term hair loss due to a variety of conditions.

I haven’t had my hair this short in a while, so I had fun trying to find the right way to style it. I lucked out that my new ‘do looked kinda cute, but who cares if it didn’t? Hair is hair, and I’m blessed that mine grows back. I don’t miss it at all… In fact, I feel a lot happier having freed myself from something that needed so much maintenance to hold my standards of “barely presentable.”

My next endeavor came at the start of the next school year, where, a month in, I already swore off internships until the next summer. The only thing I needed to make sure I had was sanity, and I was failing.

Those who know me know that the one thing I am incredibly passionate about is animal welfare and shelter adoption. They also know that one of the things that drives me insane about college life is the lack of dog contact I receive, making me a shell of my former self.

My sister and my boyfriend both got me this t-shirt last Christmas… separately! Double the fun. They really know me too well. (image courtesy of

Knowing this now, you can imagine that once I found out that the Maryland SPCA was a 20 minute drive from campus, it was hard to refrain from going after the public relations/social media internship they were offering last year… even if it was on the weekends.

Lady and I cuddling on the job. Pit bulls, vicious? Puh-lease.
Lady and I cuddling on the job. Pit bulls, vicious? Puh-lease.

People expressed their sentiments when I said I had to work during the prime time of partying and enjoying the company of friends, but I actually loved it. I never felt like I was sacrificing my college weekends to an internship, because I was doing something that I cared so much about (and getting college credit for it? BONUS!).

Making the dogs and cats feel more comfortable during their time at the shelter, and then helping them find new homes, made me feel better than anything else I’ve done in college thus far. The smiles I saw on families’ faces when they found their new best friends warmed my heart. I was finally taking action, actively supporting something I preached daily. I felt like I had a purpose–something I would never trade for the weekends of partying (or of eyes glued to the computer, consistently refreshing social media pages) that my counterparts pursued.

When you find something you feel such a strong connection to, it never feels like you’re giving up a single thing to follow it. While I thought volunteering at the SPCA would make me overscheduled, it actually became a major stress reliever. And honestly, if it doesn’t make you feel better, maybe you haven’t found the right cause to devote yourself to!

Now, enough about me, I’m curious about you! Let me know in the comments:

  1. What cause do you feel particularly strongly for?
  2. What have you contributed to this cause, if anything, that made you feel good? What would you like to do?
  3. What makes you feel like you have a purpose?

Have a wonderful weekend, and stay safe in this heat wave! I hope you enjoyed How To Be Happy #2!


3 thoughts on “How To Be Happy: Give Without Giving Up

  1. That is so cool! I’m also growing my hair out to donate. I think i’ve got the minimum 10 inches but am going to keep growing it for as long as i can. I’m got this grand idea of chopping off the locks right after i defend my thesis and get my degree. Make the day even more special. 🙂


    1. Awesome, I’m glad you’re donating too! That would totally be special to do that all in one day, good thinking! Liberating in so many more ways than one, for sure. Good luck on your thesis!


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