Contributing Your Life to Others

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When I was a Marine, I had an amazing and wise mentor who told me, “The path for fulfillment lies in your ability to achieve personal growth and contribution to others.” Everyone is going to focus on personal growth as they’re creating their careers, becoming financially stable, and setting their lives on a certain path. Even though you create satisfaction from your wins here, contributing to others is where you’ll feel alive and connect with people at an entirely different level.

To me, the most important asset that we all have, that is most precious, is our time. Your time that you give to others, to be of service to another, is something that transcends the space in which you occupy during that time from one state to another. I remember the first time in my life that I truly gave my time, freely, to other human beings with the intention of serving them to make their lives better.

That moment was in 2005, when I was in college, right after the Hurricane Katrina devastation. At that time, my college’s Water Watch organization put out a request on school break asking for student volunteers to go down to New Orleans and aid in the recovery effort. I’m not sure why, but I volunteered.

When we got down there, we discovered that we were working in the 9th Ward. This was a very poor part of New Orleans with homes flooded, and with mold forming in these homes, they became unlivable. A lot of organizations outsourced supplies and people from around the United States to gut homes for free and make them livable again by taking everything out of the houses beside the foundation. We worked directly with one of these organizations.

One day when we were there gutting a home, a man pulled another volunteer and me aside and asked to speak with us for a moment. He led us to a small table with a couple of chairs outside and asked us if we wanted a beer. At that time, we were underage, so we were good college students and turned down the offer. He then began weeping and started thanking us for what we were doing. At first, I didn’t understand why he was weeping, and later it became quite clear. He told us, “The home that you’re gutting right now is my home. If you guys were not able to be here today and help me get my house back, my son and I would need to move to North Carolina and live with my sister, who I don’t get along with.”

At that moment, I got that what we were doing was more than simply performing demolition, but rather restoring people’s lives to their former glory and providing them with the safety and security of a home of their own. Contributing to others is what makes the world work and live in harmony with one another. How are you making the world work?


Alex Macklin

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Alex Macklin is a Certified Personal Trainer and Yoga teacher in San Diego. He specializes in building strength, mobility, flexibility and rehabilitation with his clients. His mission is to empower people to their own greatness with strength, grace and passion.