*This post is sponsored by Frost Bank. You can be assured that I only accept paid collaborations if it’s a partnership that I 100% support and is right in line with my personal values.*

Would you consider yourself an optimist? Often optimism can be negatively labeled as naïve or in denial of reality, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I love how Frost Bank defines optimism; “It’s a mindset of determination in the face of adversity and the belief that a positive solution is possible with the right approach.”

While optimism doesn’t necessarily mean life is easy and smooth sailing, studies have actually shown that optimism does produce positive results in your life, particularly with financial health. Frost’s Opt For Optimism website is packed full of statistics showing the benefits of optimism, stories from inspirational optimists, and even a quiz to find out what kind of optimist you are (I’m an Evolving Optimist).

So what does an optimistic life look like practically? For me, I always want my social media presence and photography to represent the uplifting and joyful attitude that I strive towards. Another practical and powerful way to live an optimistic life is to give back to your community by using the gifts (or financial assets) that you have been blessed with. 

In partnership with Frost and CultureMap, I recently spent a day volunteering with the Humane Society of North Texas (HSNT), a nonprofit that is near and dear to my heart. Not only have I volunteered with them in the past, this is where my family has adopted 2 pets, including my adorable pup, Pepper. 

The HSNT is the oldest animal welfare organization in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and provides services such as pet adoptions, low-cost spay/neuter surgeries and vaccinations, returning lost pets to their owners, cruelty investigations and free humane euthanasia. To learn more about their specific volunteer needs, be sure to visit their website. I also really want to encourage you to adopt your next family pet instead of using a breeder or going to a local pet shop, there are so many amazing animals at the HSNT that need a loving and caring home.

So how did I volunteer with the HSNT? As a huge advocate of using your specific skills and gifts when giving back to your community, I got to borrow 4 dogs for the day (with the help of my wonderful husband, Noah) and take some beautiful photography of them around Fort Worth. The goal is that these images can be used by the HSNT in their marketing efforts to help these dogs find their forever home. I’m sharing some of my favorite photos at the end of this blog post!

Ready to get involved in your community?! First things first, the CultureMap Charity Guide is a great place to start exploring nonprofits in your community. They even break down the nonprofits into categories that will help you find exactly what you’re looking for, whether you’re passionate about serving children, animals, or veterans.

If you haven’t volunteered much, here are a few tips that I have found to be helpful as I’ve volunteered in my own community:

UTILIZE YOUR UNIQUE SKILL SET

While sometimes organizations need extremely simple tasks to be done like stuffing envelopes or hanging flyers, be sure to express specific skills you can use when discussing volunteer opportunities with the volunteer coordinator. Great at organizing? See if you can organize the food pantry. Great at marketing? Offer some consultation time to help them make the most of their small marketing budget. Get creative!

CHECK YOUR MOTIVES

I think it is extremely important to go into any volunteer opportunity with a humble attitude. If you’re serving for selfish reasons, it can be more apparent than you’d like to think.

HAVE AN OPEN MIND AND BE FLEXIBLE

When you’re volunteering, anything and everything can happen. Go with the flow and remember the reason you are there, even when things aren’t going as planned. Volunteering is also an awesome way to meet new people so be ready to form new relationships.

BRING YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY ALONG

Volunteering is even more fun (and impactful) when you do it with the people you love. I’m so thankful for the people in my life who have invited me to volunteer opportunities that have become long-term partnerships.

PRIORITIZE GIVING BACK

It’s easy to only give your “leftovers” back. I know I’ve been tempted to give those hours of my week where I’m just exhausted and don’t have a great attitude or the money I happen to have to spare each month. Include your financial giving in your monthly budget and schedule your volunteer hours when you are able to give your best work.

I’m always amazed by the way that other people get creative when volunteering. I’d love to hear your own stories about how optimism plays a role in your life and how you show generosity! 

Now for more pup pictures, what we are all here for, right?!