My 3.5 reasons to give back

For many years I’ve talked to my clients about certain ways that one can “give back” to their community and help someone else in need. I would like to tell you the benefits of giving back. No, I won’t be using guilt or coercion to get you to share my point of view, just plain-old, good common sense that starts by asking yourself a few simple questions:

  1. Do you want to increase your physical health?
  2. Do you want to enhance your emotional health?
  3. Do you want to meet new and like-minded people?
  4. And do you want to have good things done or given to you?

Obviously you’ve answered “yes” to these questions, so read on and I’ll show you how to achieve all of those benefits.

1. Increased physical health: In recent studies, it has been documented that volunteering may extend one’s mortality rate by up to seven years or more when compared to those who are non-volunteers. In addition, it was shown that people who begin volunteering at a younger age are less likely to suffer from severe ill health in their future. Now, to receive these benefits, it was also discovered that the optimal number of hours to volunteer would be 100 hours or more per year which breaks down to only two hours each week. Not too far of a stretch to accomplish those small hours, huh?

It’s obvious that these studies were done in large part on people close to retirement age or in their retirement years, (who happen to have a little more time to give) but the facts about the benefits of volunteering remain the same: improved physical health, extended life span and decreased ill health. I don’t know about you, but with something so darn easy to complete as 2 hours each week- I’m in!

2. Increased emotional health: Research also shows that volunteering has a positive effect on social psychological factors such as one’s sense of purpose and their sense of accomplishment. Volunteering helps them to feel greater life satisfaction and enhances their perceived health as well. Being a volunteer has also been shown to develop a person’s social network that in turn may buffer stress and reduce isolation and depression in hard times. All of these benefits are in comparison to their non-volunteering counterparts.

By the way, aren’t these emotional benefits I just listed the type of stuff that we are all after anyways? You may want more money, but why? Isn’t it to enjoy your life more, to have more of those “good feelings”? And why do you want to get into better physical shape? Isn’t it to feel better about yourself and improve your sense of self worth? Well, it looks to me that you may have found yet another way of achieving those same goals!

3. Meet new and like-minded people: When you find an agency or cause that you feel passionate about and can make an impact at, you’ll most likely find people who share your views on what’s most important in life. You’ll be increasing your network of friends and colleagues, and that can only help to serve you in the future. For instance, did you know that only 20% of people get a job because of a resume and almost 80% of people get their jobs because someone in their network knew them? You’ll also have a host of friends around so when life gets tough (as it most certainly will) so you’ll be less likely to isolate which will help you recover faster from a life-challenge. And, as stated above, it has been documented time and again that when someone has a group of friends- some sort of a social life- they experience a more enjoyable life as well as a longer one. So go find those positive connections!

3.5. It comes back: Years ago I met a man who helped me learn many, many spiritual principles and how to apply them in my life. He was very basic in his teachings because I was younger so he broke things down to a level I could easily understand them. For instance, one spiritual principle he taught me was humility, he said it simply meant “being teachable.” He said, “If you are always looking for a lesson to learn, you cannot possibly know it all, because when you know it all, you stop learning. And when you stop learning, you stop growing.”

 He also taught me a very simple explanation about Karma, here is what he said:  “John, if you had a bucket of *%#! and you threw some of it on your neighbor, your friend, your girl friend and your family, what do you think they would throw back at you?” “*@%!.” I said. (I was so astute.)  “But what if you filled your bucket with kindness, patience, good deeds and kind words? What would they throw back then?”

So my question to you is: “What’s in your bucket?”