Volunteer. It’s Good for You.
Posted Thursday, August 6th, 2015 by Verified Volunteers Staff
You’ve heard that volunteering is good for your resume. You know it’s good for the community. But have you heard that volunteering could also be the key to your health and happiness?
As noted in a recent Business Insider article, many of us in the United States believe that the more we own, the happier we’ll be. We also think a better job, more money, or terrific relationships are the keys to happiness. While these material things might give us instant gratification and make us happier for a moment in time, they won’t make us happier in the long run. That’s because much of our happiness, or our ability to be happy, has to do with our chemical makeup.
Say the writers, “A psychological phenomenon called the ‘hedonic adaptation’ — first coined in the 1970s — states that we all have a base level of happiness that’s basically unchangeable — regardless of what happens in our lives.” Basically, this means that we will settle in at the same level of happiness no matter what life events we face. Did you just win the lotto? You’re ecstatic, right? Well, not so fast. You’ll definitely feel happier in the short-term. You’ll celebrate, you’ll buy a really cool car, etc. But eventually that novelty will wear off and you’ll land in the same happiness range (that constant base level of happiness I referred to above) you were in before you were rolling in dough.
The Good News
There is some good news here. There are some things we can do to make ourselves happier in the long term. And these have nothing to do with material possessions or wealth. And – spoiler alert! – volunteering is one of them.
- Meditate – doing this lowers depression and anxiety. Don’t know how? Download an app like Headspace to learn.
- Get outdoors – it helps lower stress. Take a short walk, sit in a park, play sports or attend a sporting event.
- Get your culture on – activities like seeing a show, hitting up a museum, or listening to live music can lead to satisfaction with your quality of life.
- GIVE – people who give to charity are happier! A few cents can make a big difference…
- VOLUNTEER – Says the article, “In a recent review of 40 studies done over the last 20 years, researchers found that one activity was far more important than the rest for boosting psychological health: volunteering. This activity, the researchers reported, had been found in many volunteers to be linked with a reduced risk of depression, a higher amount of overall satisfaction, and even a reduced risk of death from of a physical illness as a consequence of mental distress.”
So spend some time giving to and helping others. Seek out volunteer opportunities through your local volunteer center, get involved with your church, lend a hand at your kid’s school. You’ll be giving back, but you’ll also be getting something – a better quality of life, reduced levels of stress, and lowered anxiety. That’s a win-win if I’ve ever heard one!