How to Change Your Life and Enjoy the Richest Rewards

Updated By Allie Cuno on July 31, 2020

Pandemic life isn’t easy. The doom and gloom of the day’s latest virus count is a constant emotional weight that keeps getting heavier and leaves us wondering, “Will this ever end?” We know the logical answer is “yes,” but still the end seems so distant. For some, that “light at the end of the tunnel” radiates with only a dim, flickering light. It’s no wonder that nearly half of Americans have seen their mental health impacted by the coronavirus. Is depression, fear, anger, and anxiousness destined to be the new normal?

Wait a minute … Let’s go back to that dim, flickering light at the end of the tunnel. Do you know that you have more control than you may realize on just how brightly that light––your future––shines? Don’t fall into the trap of letting the external environment control you and make you feel helpless, as if you have no power to control your destiny. Just the opposite is true. Your actions now have everything to do with your future.

“FEAR has two meanings: ‘Forget Everything and Run’
or ‘Face Everything and Rise.’ The choice is yours.”

Zig Ziglar

Take the controls …

You are the “construction company” for your future. And despite adverse conditions going on around you, you CAN start construction NOW to create a better life for yourself and your loved ones. Don’t let today’s calamities curl you up into a fetal position and immobilize you. Believe in yourself. Believe that with some hard work and determination, when it comes to your future, THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

Start with advancing your education.

It’s no secret that those with a degree have better career opportunities and increased income potential. But we tend to underestimate the other rewards that can come from gaining new skills. Helping people with your new knowledge and know-how has its own lasting rewards.

If you’re working, a degree is still possible because you can earn it online. If you’ve been laid off due to the coronavirus or other circumstances, take advantage of the extra time on your hands by starting your degree online. Online learning is a great way to get ahead in life because you can work it around whatever your schedule or current circumstances dictate.

Look for volunteer opportunities within your field of interest

That may sound like a tall order since at this point you may be busy with work, online school, and family and household commitments. But even just two hours a week of volunteer work could pay off in a big way. In addition to the joy you’ll feel in helping others, you’ll get to work with people in your chosen career field and get an inside glimpse of the industry in general. It opens up social networks so once you graduate you have friends and associates you can contact for your job search. Plus, it’s real-world experience you can add to your resume, which could make you stand out to employers.

Healthcare major? Consider volunteering at a local hospital. Studying graphic arts? Do some freelance promotional work for a nonprofit. Business student? How about volunteering to help the underserved at tax time? The opportunities for bettering our communities are endless.

Volunteer rewards for the future

Make service to others a lifelong commitment––during school and beyond. In it you’ll find a sense of purpose in life that causes you to look outside yourself. As a result, your life will be greatly enriched. Research even backs up the rewards of helping others. Americans who described themselves as “very happy” volunteered at least 5.8 hours per month.

In addition to boosting our happiness, research shows that giving back to the community helps us to live longer, better manage stress, alleviate loneliness, enhance our social lives, and inspire others. It is even shown to decrease blood pressure. All good things for a happy and healthy life!

“You can have everything in life you want,
if you will just help other people get what they want.”

Zig Ziglar

Remember that little glimmer of light that’s burning at the end of the tunnel? Turn it into a bonfire when you get an education, show kindness, help those in need, and inspire others. Then watch a more beautiful world—your world—unfold before your eyes.

Allie Cuno is a human-interest writer for Center for Excellence in Higher Education (CEHE).