Guest post by Christine McMullin
We all know that volunteer work makes the world a better place: parks are restored, inner cities beautified, kids learn math. But did you know that volunteering is good for you, too? In fact, recent studies show that you can gain so much happiness and peace of mind from volunteering that you might be getting almost as much as the organization you are volunteering for.
Let’s examine some of the ways that volunteering can make your life better.
- Volunteering makes you happier. Studies show that volunteering takes the emphasis off of you and your problems (whatever they may be) and helps you show compassion. This mix has been shown to ward off sadness, even fight depression (source: http://www.helpguide.org/life/volunteer_opportunities_benefits_volunteering.htm)
- Volunteering helps you meet new friends: People volunteer for different reasons, but often the people you meet on a volunteering opportunity do share one important trait with you: they are passionate about the same cause. You already share some common ground, just come from different places. Your social circle can get bigger and get better. (source: http://www.idealist.org/info/Volunteer/Benefits#benefits)
- Volunteering can land you a new job: In today’s economy, it’s said more than 30 people apply for the same job. How can you stand out? Doing pro-bono work or having a lot of experience with volunteering is impressive to hiring managers (especially if you are going into a socially conscious company). (source: http://www.unitedway.org/take-action/benefits-of-volunteering)
- Volunteering teaches you new skills: Feeling like you’re stuck in a rut at work or school? There’s no better way to spread your wings than volunteering. If you’re motivated and feel that you have ideas to help solve a problem, no matter how young you are, people might let you try it out. Practicing this new skill “in the field” is often more interesting than just learning about it in a class or reading about it at work. (source: http://www.worldvolunteerweb.org/resources/how-to-guides/volunteer/doc/benefits-of-volunteering.html)
- Volunteering helps you live longer: This isn’t just a warm fuzzy saying, volunteering has been shown to add years to people’s lives (source: http://www2.illinois.gov/serve/Documents/Health_Benefits_Volunteering.pdf). And if that isn’t a good reason, I don’t know what is.
So, if you’re sitting on the fence about whether or not you have time to volunteer, now is the time to sign up! Even if you gain one of these benefits, the couple hours a month or week you put toward a cause is worth it!
Have an experience that you want to share about volunteering making YOUR life better? Or have a benefit that we missed? Share with us in the comments!
Christine McMullin met new friends and learned new skills through Seattle in their HandsOn Leadership Training. She is currently a volunteer project leader at Girl Scouts of Western Washington and helps coordinate volunteers at The World is Fun. You can reach her at @CMcMChatter