When people think of happiness they think of well… puppies, probably pizza and perhaps hours and hours of online shopping. Okay, maybe that is just me! But there is another way to get happy – and it isn’t what you might think. Research has proven that those who volunteer their time, are happier overall.
“Helping others kindles happiness, as many studies have demonstrated. When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were, according to a study in Social Science and Medicine”.
Adapted from Simple Changes, Big Rewards: A Practical, Easy Guide for Healthy, Happy Living, a special health report published by Harvard Health Publications.
Who doesn’t want more happiness?! As a volunteer myself for a better part of a decade, I can wholeheartedly attest that this is an accurate claim. No amount of likes or follows can replicate the feeling of helping another person or supporting a cause – don’t make me quote Mother Theresa, ’cause I will!
Most people would love to volunteer their time, however may not know where to get started. Here are some suggestions:
Find a cause you are passionate about. Maybe you love animals, a shelter or animal rescue would be the perfect spot to lend a hand. Perhaps you feel strongly about teaching under-privileged youth how to read, a local Y or youth center could be a great fit. First and foremost, passion for volunteering has to start with the cause. If you aren’t truly excited about the organization, and its mission, it can be challenging to stick with it. Learn what really matters to you and seek out that particular opportunity.
Learn about the organization. Do your research when looking at volunteer opportunities, make sure the group, company, or non-profit is reputable with a good history of success and a firm governing structure. Check their website (yup, that means the interweb) and any other public information available.
Connect with an insider. Most non-profit groups get giddy at the thought of a new volunteer, they are usually happy to connect you with someone who can give you a run-down on the group and what they stand for. Said insider can also give you a schedule of events or a list of upcoming volunteer opportunities.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Like with any new experience, keep an open mind. There might be a learning curve or new set of skills you may need to acquire – awesome, heck yes, soak that up! It might mean learning how to interact with children who have Autism or caring for animals after they have been rescued. Gain those new skills or hone existing ones.
Have fun and meet new people. Volunteering is a terrific way to meet new people. It is highly likely that you will interact with someone inspiring, dedicated and caring. These relationships are something no amount of money can buy. Enjoy the people and the experience, and of course, have fun.
Questions about volunteerism? Email me!