And Feel Happier Too! Really?!? Sign me up.
Before I tell you how to sign up for these great benefits, I really have to get something off my chest. Ok, here it goes… I once met a friend who thoroughly enjoyed ringing the Salvation Army bell each holiday season. My response was, “why would you spend your time ringing a bell for free when you could be out having fun?” I admit, standing around ringing a bell did not sound like a fun time, but neither did any “volunteer” activity when I was in my 20’s. If I did not receive a pay check for my time, why would I want to do something so silly like that?
Fast forward to my 30’s and I am now a chair, a consultant, and a volunteer with numerous organizations… all for free! Interestingly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that persons in their twenties are least likely to volunteer, while 35 to 44-year olds are most likely to volunteer. Now that I am the queen of volunteering, if you need something done for your organization, just call me. I would love to do it! Do I have “sucker” tattooed across my forehead, nope, I simply love helping out in a charitable manner. Volunteer activities can be invigorating, and they come with a ton of built in benefits.
Many of our psychological forefathers believed in the strength of our connection with our society and neighborhood. Alfred Adler once said, “It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in the world and provides the greatest injury to others.” Of course there is the chicken and egg argument that can be used here, but we can also look at it from a vicious vs. virtuous circle. In the virtuous circle, the positive behaviors and good deeds build, thus creating even more favorable results. In the vicious circle, more pessimism and lack of good deeds creates detrimental results.
Dating back to 1958, Erich Fromm believed that our society was in trouble. Erich Fromm stated, “If you take the average American, and studies have shown that, he is really concerned only with private affairs… he is not concerned with his society.” We can’t really say that our lack of connectivity is a recent problem, as it has been noticeable across the decades. We cannot just sit back and expect that everyone else with do the work.
While you are helping out others, you are also benefitting yourself. Here are just a few of the ways that volunteering can help YOU:
1. Feel Happier – Research has shown that, over time, volunteering across all age groups helped to decrease depression symptoms. In fact, many volunteers say, “I get more out of this than what I give.” Perhaps it is the sense of, “I matter,” that also makes us feel better.
2. Get Your Dream Job – Are you in a dead end job or a job that you just loathe? The volunteer experiences that you have can be added to your resume. Not only that but you can also network with some great people and learn about job openings.
3. Meet Amazing Friends – Think about it this way. Other people who are also helping out a charity have a sense of kindness and caring. What better friends to have than those whom work in a charitable manner?
4. Have Fun – Who knew that so many charities have such fun activities? Cocktail parties, fashion shows, silent auctions, field trips, cooking classes, and so much more. This summer I found myself assigned to be in charge of walking celebrity athletes around a kids’ sports camp.