Rock Steady Boxing is an amazing organization dedicated to delaying the progression of Parkinson’s disease. It assists Parkinson’s patients by teaching boxing techniques. It works with the help of many, many volunteers! Rock Steady Boxing is just one of hundreds – make that thousands of non-profit or religious organizations that could use your volunteer help. They would love your assistance with as little or as much of your time, talents, and gifts as you are willing to give.
Your friends or neighbors might also like a helping hand. We can drive a friend or relative to a doctor’s or chemotherapy appointment, help carpooling kids, sweep the driveway or help with simple home maintenance. Even a word of appreciation or a smile and simple act of kindness are valued. Pay it forward.
So What’s In It For Me?
I’d love to say that we should help others just out of the kindness of our hearts. When we help others, when we give back, we reap some pretty amazing benefits. Here are five major benefits:
Volunteering has been shown to lessen the symptoms of chronic pain, depression, and heart disease. In my practice as a therapist and coach, I have seen a number of my clients reap these benefits. Our brain chemistry does some surprisingly wonderful things. When we help others, our dopamine levels increase which can result in a “helper’s high.” So if you want to feel better, the best way is not to focus on your ills, issues and problems, but to reach out and in some way, small or large, make a difference
Helping others gives us the opportunity to make new friends and to deepen relationships. We feel less lonely and more connected to others and to the world. People find us more approachable and interesting. We have more to talk about. Our lives become richer and we are more attractive to ourselves and to others.
Advance Your Career
By volunteering we can learn new skills and make new contacts. Helping others increases our self-confidence and gives us a sense of meaning and purpose. We feel better about ourselves when we volunteer. This shows up in a number of different positive ways and helps us both advance in our current careers or in looking for a new job.
Seniors who give 100 hours or more each year are over 20% less likely to die than their less philanthropic counterpoints. That’s only two hours per week. The important thing is that you volunteer on a regular basis.
We Feel Happier
“Our research suggests there’s a threshold of giving that you need to reach before it has an impact,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD (author of The How of Happiness). “Each action has a cumulative effect. The more nice things you do, the more people will respond positively toward you, and the better you’ll feel.”
Prescription: Five Small Acts of Kindness Per Day
The bottom line for maximum benefit is five small acts of kindness each day. Try it for six weeks. A small act of kindness could be helping a friend, visiting a relative, writing a thank you note or voicing a word of appreciation to your spouse, child or coworker or even a heartfelt smile and a kind word. Try it and see how you feel. After all what do you have to lose? You have an lot to gain.
By Amelia Barnes, Life and Relationship Coach