Arriving at Second Chance Cheekye Ranch, Sarah and I toss our phones in the truck and I set off down the long dirt road to the barn. We’ve both had a rough week, and are ready to do some “meditative shit shoveling” as I call it.
Arriving at the first paddock, we are greeted by a few horses poking their heads over the fence. For having such long faces, I’m always surprised how these animals are so sweet and gentle. Being from a rescue ranch, many of these horses have experienced a variety of trauma; from neglect and abuse, to rejection for being old, lame or injured.
A stable support group
I believe animals, like humans, when saddled with a considerable amount of grief in life, tend to soften their rough edges and become more grateful. Research has confirmed this fact, in that living through difficult setbacks may have the unexpected benefit of compassion.
I wasn’t anticipating such feel-good benefits when I began tagging along with Sarah on her weekly volunteer trips to the ranch. I’ve always loved horses, but what really stirred my heart was helping these creatures find refuge from their previous pain and suffering. I know what it’s like to experience tremendous hurt, and I believe easing another’s pain, in turn eases your own. And I think the horses feel the mutual connection. We’ve all had our own share of tough times in life, and if we respond to others with vulnerability and empathy, it leads to compassion and connection.
Help your neighbour
If you’re feeling lonely or depressed—like you just can’t giddyup in the morning—you may consider making some volunteer time. When you are of service to others, it helps you gain a sense of purpose and connection, which so too battles loneliness and staves off depression and anxiety.
Humans have an innate need for belonging, yet over the centuries we’ve lost touch with our tribe way of life, and with it has gone our deep sense of belonging. We all want (and need) to feel part of something larger than ourselves, and part of living a Zesty Life is finding your tribe. Helping others works because we are social animals who are wired to function better within community rather than in isolation.
Afillyate with a meaningful cause
Investing in others is worth the short-term cost, because the the long-term gain you’ll receive is bucketloads of joy and enhanced relationships. The trick when searching for a volunteer opportunity is to think about things you’re passionate about, what skills you may offer, and the difference you want to make.
Making a conscious effort to be kind to someone or something—not because you’re obligated to, because you should, or because you’ll get something in return—but simply to be kind and to benefit another, is truly where the magic happens.
The Mane Benefits of Volunteering
- Help others
- Learn new skills
- Find purpose and increase your happiness
- Increased confidence
- Increase connections and tribe
- Decrease anxiety & depression
Second Chance Cheekye Ranch