The ancient philosopher, Aristotle, once said, “What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good.” And, the ancient prophet, Isaiah said, “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.” (Isaiah 58:10)
That is why we volunteer, isn’t it? To do good. To push back the darkness of this world in order to make it a little better. To get out beyond the self and gain broader perspective and deeper understanding.
I want people to know that volunteering is good for you. Volunteering is an activity that someone chooses to do without being paid. It can be formal or informal. Informal volunteering includes helping friends and family with things like babysitting, home repairs or caring for someone who is recovering from illness or injury. Formal volunteering usually takes place through a charity or other not-for-profit or community organization. Volunteering makes an immeasurable difference in the lives of others. But did you know how much you help yourself by giving back? From lowering stress to boosting self-confidence, volunteering offers many health benefits. I Googled it, and I found that there are over 19 million articles on how doing good helps people lead better, healthier lives. Here are a few of the benefits enumerated in several of the articles I found:
1. Volunteering with and for others increases social interaction and helps build a support system based on common commitment and interests—both of which have been shown to decrease depression.
2. Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose and fulfillment, and increases your self-confidence while you’re at it!
3. Volunteering helps you stay physically and mentally active. A study released by Johns Hopkins University in 2009 revealed that volunteers actually increased their brain functioning. Volunteer activities get you moving and thinking at the same time.
4. Volunteering will reduce stress levels. By savoring your time spent in service to others, you’ll feel a sense of meaning and appreciation—both given and received—which can be calming.
5. When you volunteer, you experience “The Happiness Effect.” You know that feel-good sense you get after a vigorous workout? It comes from a release of dopamine in the brain. Helping others has that exact same effect—so the more you volunteer, the happier you become!
6. Volunteering can open up opportunities to go abroad, as many organizations and programs put on “voluntourism” trips across the globe. Traveling spurs physical activity and mental planning while providing you different perspectives—literally and figuratively—on life.
Therefore, get on the Volunteerism train. It will do you and the world around you a lot of good. Someone once said, “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” I don’t know about y’all, but I vote for community filled with selfless servants.