How Feeding Others Feeds Your Soul

This post is by Sheila Hart-O’Connor of

My mother has the belief that when you’re feeling down, the best way to improve your outlook is to help someone in need.

It’s easier said than done, when all you want to do is crawl under a rock or hide away in your bed.

A few months ago, in the thick of a Midwestern winter, I got the blahs. In general, things were just not going the way I wanted. Shades of grey out the window weren’t helping either. But after a couple hours of indulging in self-pity, I thought it might be time to put those motherly words of wisdom to the test. I logged on to a local volunteer web site to see if there ways that I could put that energy to better use.

With my interest in anything environmental and my love for the outdoors, I immediately clicked on a listing for a nearby organic garden. After reading the description, I learned that this garden was a very special place. Not only was all of the food grown organically, but it was also produced specifically for low-income families. It seemed meant to be.

A greener thumb than before

I’m not a gardener. So it goes without saying that I’m not the owner of a green thumb. However, two weeks ago when the day of the event finally arrived, I went with a clean slate. I’d never done large-scale gardening, but I was really excited about participating with other people. And even more excited when I found out that they didn’t have inherent gardening talents either.

Because it was early spring, most of the time was spent weeding the garden. Toward the end, however, we did get to plant some seeds for lettuce, radishes, and cucumbers. Would you guess I actually enjoyed myself, and even learned some things about gardening along the way? I genuinely felt good about what I was doing, and I was so excited that these efforts were going to yield great, healthy food options for people who truly needed it.

The problems of a few months earlier seemed so distant, replaced by the satisfaction of an unselfish act. Mom was right!

Have you found that giving to others feeds your soul?

Sheila Hart-O’Connor is a copywriter that enjoys helping businesses and individuals build long-lasting relationships with their customers through effective and relevant online communication. Her work and accomplishments can be viewed online at

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  1. Sheila,

    Great post. And a testament to how we can all make a difference. We don’t have to be “Oprah.”. 🙂

    I make and design gift baskets and donate them for charitable causes. Thanks for sharing this @ a time when it is definitely needed. And sometimes our mom’s can be right. 😉

    • Thank you, Jennifer! I love your idea for gift baskets, and I agree that even as individuals we make a difference. I can even see this becoming an addiction for me…of the good kind 🙂

  2. So lovely – and yes – thinking of others fills up the space normally filled by thinking of ourselves. And what a lovely project – productive, useful, community based – thank you for sharing!

  3. Great post.

    Simple, personal and instructive.


  4. Hi Sheila,
    I believe in helping others as well. To do random acts of kindness without expecting anything in return always has a way of making us feel good.

    I am on my third season of having a vegetable garden. We always have way too much and it is always rewarding to give bags full of vegetables to friends and family.

    • Hi Justin ~ I can think back to when someone performed an act of kindness for me, without expecting anything in return, and I remember how good it made me feel. It’s nice to know that you can give that feeling to someone else, isn’t it?

      Enjoy your garden 🙂 I am growing my own herbs (basil, parsley, mint, and cilantro) for the first time this year…so far, so good! Thanks for reading!

  5. Sheila, I like the way you’re thinking! I always have that feeling when I help others asking nothing in return! It’s contribution to the world. It serves the grater good! Thank you for sharing, have a great day!

  6. I totally agree…Joyce Meyer talks often about helping others when you are feeling down and in a rut. It not only takes your mind off your problems, but you get to help someone else at the same time! More people should adopt this way of thinking….


  7. It is amazing what helping someone else can do to pull yourself out blahs or depression or whatever ill’s it may be. I’ve gotten to where I love reading the books titles “Random Acts of Kindness”. They are short stories before bed that remind me good things can happen when you least expect them.

  8. Hi Shiela, your post is really meaningful!

    “Our mother still knows best.” Such a timeless saying.
    Anyway, thanks so much for enlightening us, your readers. It always pays to share and help others. It may not be in monetary rewards or whatsoever but feeling the sense of fulfillment afterwards just makes it all worth it.

    Cheers! 🙂

  9. Rose Hart says:

    Thanks for sharing with me! This is so delightful and I am so proud that you are giving of your time for such a great need in Chicago. May it fill your heart with great satisfaction knowing that you are helping feed the hungry in that community. I planted a vegetable garden in my backyard this year too so it is my prayer that God will bless all of our gardens so we are able to share as well! Keep up the good work! Love ya, Mom

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