Scientific studies show people who volunteer to assist others, live longer and experience less illness. This is because we give meaning to our lives when we make a difference. The more direct our involvement, the more we see the positive impact resulting from our actions and this helps us to feel connected to something greater.

Make Molehills Out of Mountains

Giving to those in need of assistance also helps put our own personal challenges into perspective. Without this broader outlook we can become insular and see our problems as insurmountable and drown in self-pity.

Experiencing the direct impact of helping others through volunteering is also far more rewarding than merely donating to a charity as we see firsthand the value of our contribution, generating feelings of pride and joy. This builds our self-esteem and enhances our self-image, which is crucial if we are to feel happy about who we are and the life we are living on the understanding of our life is of true value.  

Traditionally in our modern-day culture, it has been the third age members of our community who have done the most volunteering. This is because they have the time and many want to actively continue to make a contribution to society.

Many parents also volunteer as part of their children’s education and extra- curricular activities. This may involve spending time assisting with working bees, camps, concerts, coaching and fund-raising.

Volunteering is, however an important practice for us at any age, regardless of our social situation. In fact, it is an essential part of raising well-rounded adults that we ensure our youth experience the benefits of volunteering. This helps tweens, teens and twenty- somethings gain a broader understanding of life beyond their personal circumstances. This is essential if they are to gain a sense of personal responsibility as global citizens, so they don’t remain a children psychologically, focusing solely on their own needs and feeling indignant if they don’t always get what they want.

Given the degree to which kids are subjected to high budget Hollywood films, celebrity envy, product placement in films and constant advertising which targets them through all their high tech devices, it is imperative that we, as a collective community of adults ensure they are exposed to what lies beyond the virtual world and are actively invited to participate in making a difference.

This is particularly important when we consider how vulnerable our youth are to experiencing bouts of anxiety and depression while integrating their inevitable loss of innocence as they become increasingly aware of the shadow side of life, evoking feelings of overwhelm and powerless. It is these mental health conditions that form a fertile ground for habitual drug and alcohol use as a way of escaping to numb their sense of hopelessness and despair.

As a result, many under the age of thirty will experience suicidal tendencies if they cut from adult support in their need to rebel against the adult world who they hold accountable for the dysfunction they see in the world and their own lives. Without adequate mentoring it’s understandable cynicism can fuel a sense of paralysis to affect any real change, along with personal self- doubt about one’s own potential. Volunteering offers an opportunity to shift that negative spiral.

Regardless of your age, consider how you can give yourself a feel good hit by giving of your time and skills to help someone less fortunate.

This is an excerpt from The 28 Day Happy Challenge…happiness habits to raise your vibe!

Makes a great gift as all proceeds support the rehabilitation of survivors of human trafficking. 

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