In the world today – we like to keep ourselves as busy as possible. We have the regular things – work, family & friends. We then add on going to the gym, coffee shops, getting French bulldog puppies, online shopping, online dating, regular dating, learning a new language and planning our next trip. So, in fact, our ‘free time’ is worth quite a lot.
With all these layers, we can only commit a tiny part of ourselves into these. In turn, they only feed our soul that tiny bit. So, we take on more and more to try and make us feel better about ourselves. However, while the quick fix of an ‘add to cart’ might be instant, it fades just as quickly as it arrived.
There is only one way to create lasting self-worth, self-appreciation and a sense of belonging to this world we all share. By giving someone the most precious thing you possess – your time – you are getting the greatest reward. You won’t remember the jeans you bought six months ago – but a smile on that person’s face when you helped them – will never leave you.
I recently spoke to Travis Stedman, one of the founding members of No Danger Diaries, a South African based group of ‘live life to the fullest’ guys. Founded in 2012, the group has participated in close to 100 events. While living busy lives, they make time to enjoy life and give back to the community.
For a short period, a Manchester (UK) group started to emulate their adventures while still studying. And countless people have taken the positive ethos out into their own organizations in their own countries.
When talking about how giving back truly feeds the soul, this is what Travis had to say:
Q. Why did you guys decide to start something like this? What was the initial aim?
A. It was by coincidence. Me, Grant, Sebastian and Daniel all moved into a house together, in beautiful Camp’s Bay, Cape Town. On the veranda one night we were discussing how lucky we were to be in such a nice house, in this stunning environment. We decided to create a ‘living list’ (not bucket list – we were still young and far from ‘kicking the bucket’ – we hoped). But we added a twist – every 3rdthing on the list would involve giving back to those less fortunate that us. So, the initial aim was to live a life full of adventure for ourselves, but to also take time to help others have a good or at least better life.
Q. Was it all about the friendship at first or all about the giving back?
A. We were good friends already – this was about us all having something in common within the friendship – and that was the desire to help people who don’t have what we had. We wanted to have fun, but the core was about how we could give back to our community. We wanted people to enjoy watching us do all the tasks – the fun ones for us and the ones for others. We hoped it would inspire them to live life a little more.
Q. With so many people in need – how did you go about choosing who to help?
A. We realized that making a difference as an individual – can be quite scary – because you’re just one person. So as a group, we talked about who we personally wanted help and which were realistically achievable. With South Africa still sadly struggling with post-apartheid recovery – there were tons of options. People need to realize that if everyone does something small – and makes a small difference – in their town, community, school, shelter – all those small differences will add up to make a big difference.
Q. Seeing the happy faces at the events must have felt good right?
A. Of course! By bringing joy to others, you bring joy to yourself. Think about Christmas – as a kid you get so excited that you are going toget presents! We love getting these things. But as you mature and get older, you realize that the joy of Christmas is that look on the people’s faces when they open your gift. Your joy is seeing their joy. Seeing these people happy, gave my so much more than what I was giving.
Q. What is the difference, in your opinion, between giving to charity and doing for charity?
A. When it comes to charity – handouts don’t work. If you want to really help people – you need to empower them. A handout can often make the problem worse. Because then nothing changes, and the person/group can sit and wait for the next reward – for doing nothing. And the day that reward stops, they have absolutely no game plan for what next. And the downward spiral from there is quick, sharp and ends in tragedy. Doing something – changes their lives long term.
Q. Why do you think more people don’t go out donate time?
A. There are some amazing organizations doing good work. In the Western Cape I believe there are over 70,000 NGO’s out here trying to make a difference. As far as the individual goes – I think more people would be willing to give their time if they actually knew the benefits they would experience. But time is precious, you can’t buy more. So, with such busy lives, I think unfortunately people are selfish with their time. If it’s me or them – it’s usually me first.
Q. Did you feel the positive effects in your own mind – after these days out? Was there a buzz or a high or some kind? And how long would it last?
A. Absolutely! It was incredible…it really blew me away. All the positive chemicals that were being released made me feel such a high. It lasts as long as that event or experience stays with you. The rush dies down, but it’s a life time supply. I can sit today and think back to an event we did for children or a homeless man – and it still makes me smile to this day. So, whenever I need, I can access those thoughts and feel a bit happier. Well worth my time!
Q. What advice would you give someone who really has this feeling like they want to help other people, but aren’t doing anything as yet?
A. There are people all around you that could use a helping hand. You don’t have to fly to rural Asia and help vaccinate animals on the streets for 8 months. I mean if you can do these amazing things – please do! But around us there are hundreds of opportunities to be kind. The main thing is the shift in mindset. Saying to yourself: “I am going to take a little bit less and give a little bit more”. Once you’re actively looking to help, you’ll see how many opportunities there are.
Q. Some studies have shown that one of the best ways to fight your own feelings of low self-worth, is to help others – would you agree with this kind of statement?
A. This is so true. I have, just like so many people, had some really low times in my life. But it was when I looked at my life, compared to the life of some of the people we were helping – and I instantly saw that I had a great life. So much to be thankful for. In helping these people – it helped ME to feel better about who I am, what I can offer and in general, forget about my own problems for a while. Which was such a relief.
Q. Lastly – If you could go out & do charity for a day with someone famous, who would it be and why?
A. This is a tough one. I don’t think I would care if I they are famous or not. We all look at famous people and ‘aspire’ to be them or live their life but just the other day I saw an article about a homeless man that jumped in the ocean to save someone’s life here in Cape Town. To me, that person should be famous. I would like to go out with that guy for a day!
Some of the tasks these amazing people have done so far:
#6:Setup a non-stop Dance-a-thon for 67 hours – for Mandela Day
#9: Lead the visually impaired on a hike up Table Mountain
#21: Take a homeless man (they met Joe West) out for sit down dinner (at Nando’s – his choice)
#28: Take and African child to see Africa’s number 1 predator (Lions)
#39: Do A puppet Show for Orphans (Travis’ favorite so far & one of the most memorable days in his life!)
To check out some of their videos and amazing stories – or to get involved with a project – head to their website: http://www.nodangerdiaries.com/joy/
And check out this One Minute Mantra about the power of giving back:
ARE YOU A POSITIVE PERSON WITH A STORY TO TELL?
EMAIL ME & YOU COULD BE FEATURED!