Happiness Habits: Volunteer and Care
Flickr/US Department of Defense
It’s hard to stay bright and cheery on a daily basis. Sometimes, we just don’t feel like smiling. But, deep happiness and positivity is important to our health. So, what if you could start feeling happier, avoid depression and help the world all at once?
A recent paper by Dr. Suzanne Richards and colleagues at the University of Exeter Medical School reviewed 40 studies from the past 20 years that have linked happiness and health with volunteering. The paper found that, indeed, volunteering is associated with an increased well-being and lower depression.
But it is not just the act itself of volunteering that creates this deep happiness. Anyone can volunteer, but it is those who care for others’ well-beings, those who choose to volunteer selflessly. Acts of altruism and the genuine desire to help or improve the world tend to be prevalent in those with higher life satisfaction.
And caring can go beyond charity work or volunteering at a soup kitchen. The seemingly simple action of reaching out towards someone who looks lonely or upset can actually make you happier in your own life.
The positive effects of caring for others are overwhelming, and my vote is that the whole world should get on board. But, the selflessness is what is key. Another study entitled, “Altruism, Helping, and Volunteering: Pathways to Well-Being in Late Life” found that volunteers who are motivated for the sake of volunteering itself feel much more satisfaction. In other words, “intrinsically motivated” volunteers are much happier in life than the “extrinsically motivated” volunteers.
Small steps towards caring for others will make the world a better place, and ourselves. Live happier, smile more, and see the shining faces of those you’ve helped along the way.