“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention”

– Oscar Wilde

 

Did you know that the human brain is hard wired to give to others? Volunteering can help you reduce your stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated and provide a sense of purpose. Somewhere along the rat race in today’s competitive world, people can often forget about their real purpose. Volunteering is nature’s way of enabling people to reintegrate into society.

Volunteering has the “The Happiness Effect” on individuals. According to a research conducted by the London School of Economics on a large group of American adults, compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among those who volunteer monthly and 12% for people every two to four weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16% felt very happy – a hike in happiness comparable to having an income of $75,000-$100,000 versus $20,000.

It only requires the least amount of effort to make a difference

Volunteering allows you to connect to your community and make a difference in someone’s life. Moreover, your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, expand your network and boost your social skills. There is a difference between finding a solace in solitude and experiencing the hollowness of loneliness. Volunteering can help get out of your comfort zone as well as overcome loneliness. Having friends can help you stabilize your emotional state.

Talking about the facts and speaking in “technical medical terms”

Volunteering helps you develop new friendship that ignites the part of the brain that makes us feel good, which eventually leads to better emotional health. By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others deliver immense pleasure. The human brain is hard-wired to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel. Volunteering is the way of helping others in your own way, so you are not working for anyone but for yourself, which gives a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment which only comes when you do something you really care about. When you help others, you become happy which in turn releases chemicals serotonin and dopamine. Both these hormones are necessary to remain happy as well as cure depression in some cases.

Volunteering helps counteract the effects if stress, anger and anxiety. The social aspect of helping and working with others can have profound effect on one’s overall psychological well-being. Additionally, working with pets and other animals has been proven to improve mood and reduce anxiety and stress. Volunteering keeps you in regular contact with others and helps you develop a solid support system, which in turn helps you protect against depression. You receive a sense of accomplishment when you feel worthy enough to help others. All of these helps you have a positive outlook towards life and future goals. Volunteering is the best way to get your mind off your own worries, keep you mentally stimulated, and adds more zest to your life.

Studies have shown that those who do volunteer work have a lower mortality rate than those who do not volunteer. Because volunteering affects your happiness, the more you do it, the more you feel happy about life, the more likely you are to live a long, healthy life. It can also lessen the symptoms of chronic pain and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Volunteering is literally everyone’s cup of tea

It is a misconception that volunteering is limited to posting banners, spreading flyers or helping the charities. The reality is, it does not matter if you are behind a screen sharing your experience or out in the community helping others upfront; even the tiniest effort made with the intention to help others adds to your journey of self-entitlement. Research has shown that adults with disabilities or health conditions ranging from hearing and vision loss to heart disease, diabetes or digestive disorders al show improvement after volunteering.

Does volunteering sound too good to be true? Well, guess what! It is true! It is win-win situation for everyone.

Volunteer can help you advance your career. It gives you to practice important skills used in the workplace, such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, project management, and organization. It is a great way to gain experience in new field or enhance your existing skills. It also helps you explore your interests in various fields without losing the comfort of your regular job. Moreover, it might also expose you to professional organizations or internships that could benefit you to grow. If you feel that you are a part of something that is bigger than your own problems, you are more likely to feel that your life is fulfilling.

Volunteering-A kickstart for the beginners

I guess the only question remaining here is, How do you get involved?

The only requirements you need to meet for volunteering are passion, positivity, compassion and a willingness to do whatever is needed. It is literally a boon for everyone.

Tips that can lead you to the path of the fulfillment

The best way to begin is to find opportunities that match both your goals and interests. It is a big world out there, and more happiness can be found to those who make an effort to seek it. I am not telling you to leave everything and settle in Africa and help the children for the rest of your life. Just donating a couple of hours from your busy schedule is all that is required to help you in ways that are unimaginable. Research has shown that two or three hours per week or about 100 hours a year can confer the most benefits. Research has also shown that people who donate their money to charities in turn receive more happiness and health benefits than if they were to spend that same amount of money on themselves.

Let’s face it, there is nothing that compares to the fulfillment of watching a smile on someone’s face and knowing that you are the reason behind it.

Pinky Sabhnani