SENSE OF BELONGING: Early morning along Noosa River.
SENSE OF BELONGING: Early morning along Noosa River. Erle Levey

Giving takes many forms

Life is a vast learning curve and the challenges we experience along the way are where we learn.

At the same time, it is so interesting to see the way in which so many people chip in to do their bit for the community.

I was reminded of it this week and it took me back to growing up in a country town.

People give where they can to make sure the community continues to survive and thrive.

They contribute their time, their money, their resources ... whatever it takes.

It can take the form of coaching and mentoring in sport and lifestyle pursuits, the participation in meetings and on committees, those that support the prize home draws for charity or those that take a ticket in the meat tray or chook raffle.

There are those who selflessly give of their time to help in times of emergency as members of the SES or rural fire services, the timekeepers at sporting events and those who work in the canteen.

Then there are the keen ones who are up at daybreak marking the lines on sports fields.

Yet there is another benefit to helping out - the enormous feeling of satisfaction from pitching in and being part of the greater good.

Connectivity and community are two of the keys to a long and happy life.

Especially when we see such a changing demographic ... healthier lifestyles, improved housing and better medical services all lead to longer, more active lives.

Retirement takes on a different aspect. Instead of retreating from the community people are looking for ways in which to remain keenly interested in what is going on around them and want to be able to contribute their skills, their expertise.

This is in addition to being able to enjoy life with good food and good company.

It's that contact with others that is so vital. Encouraging close connections within community and maintaining social interaction, interests and activities is absolutely essential to the well-being of older Australians, for both physical and mental health reasons.

It's the same with family. Keeping in touch with the extended family members, taking an active interest in their welfare.

For grandparents to pass on their experience, their wisdom to their grandchildren is a priceless asset. Just to see the wonder in the young eyes makes it all worth while.

It's our reason for being. After all, what you put into life determines what you get out of it.