Give Back: You May Live Longer!
I’ve been volunteering my time for as long as I can remember. I do it for a number of reasons; first and foremost, because I enjoy it. I like to give back to those who are less fortunate. Often times, I feel like there is as much in it for me as for those who I am helping. Secondly, I believe strongly that active citizens are essential to a functioning society, and I want to practice what I preach. Participating in projects and volunteering with organizations that work towards the betterment of others is not a choice for me, it is my duty. Other benefits of donating my time include meeting people and having new experiences that enrich my life and prepare me for future endeavors. Not to mention that volunteering looks good on a resume, too.
According to a recent study I read, there appears to be something else to add to my list of benefits. I may actually live longer. Volunteering generally makes people “happier,” and also enables them to “cope with the stresses of life,” says Harvard Professor George Vaillant. His study found that volunteers were “two and a half times less likely to die from any cause compared to non-volunteers”, and “helping others also seems to result in a boosted immune system, few colds and headaches and better sleeping habits.” What do you know? No wonder I’ve been as healthy as a horse all these years!
This past saturday, I volunteered all day at a local book drive. I oversaw groups of volunteers helping to pack books in boxes for six hours. The hours flew because everyone was having such a great time. There was a sense that we were serving a higher purpose, helping to connect people with books who otherwise would not be able to read them. I don’t think that this feeling of genuine happiness can be understated. Generosity truly did make us all happy that afternoon. Everyone left with a smile, a story to share with others, and a new motivation to donate their time helping those who are less fortunate. I think it’s about time we stopped the search for the fountain of youth and focused our efforts giving back to the community: a proven way to live a longer and happier life.
Check out dosomething.org for tons of ideas on how to donate your time!
-Daniel, Young Men’s Health Task Force