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$Monday: Vote and Volunteer for Health and Wealth

The mere act of voting and the mere act of volunteering can lead to better health and increased wealth for you down the road, no matter what you're voting and volunteering for--as long as they are causes you feel good about supporting. You can read about the science behind these benefits in Time. It makes sense to me because taking those little actions leads you to learn more about issues and build confidence in your abilities to contribute to something larger than yourself. You can draw pride and inner peace just from knowing that you have done your part. Whatever the outcome may be, you know you showed up and did the right thing. When results don't turn out in your favor, you can choose to learn from the experience and shore up your skills at overcoming disappointments. Nobody ever grew strong from getting everything they ever wanted. America, it is time to adult.

When you become a parent, caregiver, or mentor to a child, the acts of voting and volunteering become doubly meaningful because you are setting an example for the next generation to follow. Whether the election goes in your favor or not, this is a chance to demonstrate the power of collective action and also the resilience of snapping back into action when the vote doesn't go your way. You have control over your own vote; you do not have control over the result of everyone's vote. Acceptance and perseverance are traits that infuse your whole life with a greater ability to weather setbacks. 

And when you vote and volunteer for causes that promote equality, community-wide wellness, care for fellow citizens, and personal empowerment for all, sometimes those collective efforts by many individuals make waves that lift up the whole of society for succeeding generations. When that doesn't happen in the time frame you'd like, you can at least say that you did what you could. When it does happen, you can feel the glow of having been a part of making that change in the world.

So whether or not you feel called to get your hands deep into the dirt of politics or activism (and those are tough roads that aren't right for everyone), at least put a tiny bit of safe, easy effort into doing your individual part in ways that feel good, build your inner strength, and promote a better world. You'll reap an outsized reward for your trouble.

Don't get too attached the results, especially in the short term, and always take time to smell the roses (or autumn leaves or November rains or springtime mud or whatever is going on out there in the RL, outside of the seductively maddening news cycles). The practice of taking simple pride in democratic and social participation shores up your inner resources and enriches your family in ways you can't even predict, and you'll often be happily surprised when your efforts end up contributing to seemingly miraculous harvests of goodness in the future. (For a metaphorical demonstration, see my recent post about the joys of lazy gardening.)

In many states, you can get started on voting to save America from fascism today, if you haven't already! I've already filled out and returned my own ballot, and so has my husband, and we feel great about earning our "I Voted" stickers! Slate has provided this guide on how to vote, sometimes early, in every state.

For a quick guide to your local ballot, pop your address into the non-partisan resource vote411.org for the lowdown on each candidate, including personal statements about why they are running.

Happy voting!

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