Studies have shown that one of the best ways to help ourselves is actually to attempt to help others. People derive happiness from seeing others happy, and this is especially true if we have shown kindness and generosity to others.

So, what’s the connection? Helping others through a difficult time by performing good deeds can:

  1. make you feel compassionate as well as in control, and can even give you bursts of euphoria referred to as “the helper’s high” from dopamine and endorphins released in the brain.
  2. create feelings of “relatedness,” or bonding with others, which then trigger happy, contented feelings.
  3. allow people to take a break from their own worries and stresses and instead, focus on contributing toward the overall good of someone else.
One way many people choose to experience this happiness is by performing volunteer work. And while it’s natural to first think of the benefits to others when considering volunteering for an organization, it’s clear that the benefits of volunteering for those receiving help are abundant. Your time and unique talents can truly make an impact on the world around you. Finding your passion and following that vision will help you take purposeful steps to help others.

Whether it’s reading to seniors at a nursing home, volunteering at your local animal shelter or organizing food drives, the benefits to the receiver and the community at large are typically a large part of the reason why many decide to volunteer in the first place. But have you ever thought about the impact volunteerism has on the individual doing the volunteering? Volunteerism has been proven to positively impact the volunteer in a number of ways, including:

  1. A confidence boost: Volunteering provides a unique opportunity to develop confidence and self-esteem, since your role as a volunteer can give you a sense of pride and identity. You can also gain new skills and see yourself in a new light.
  2. Reduced stress: Having a cause to focus on can help counteract the effects of stress, depression and anxiety. The social aspect of volunteerism can help you feel connected and concentrate on the task at hand, rather than outside stressors.
  3. Sense of purpose: Dedicating your time to an organization can give you a new sense of direction and a boost of energy, knowing that your contribution is necessary and valuable.
  4. Increased happiness: Research shows that “feel good” hormones and brain activity spike when volunteering. It’s impossible to NOT make an impact when volunteering — and that knowledge leads to happiness, as most humans naturally enjoy serving others.
There are a number of websites that are geared toward helping people “match” with organizations with volunteer opportunities available. Check out www.volunteermatch.org to get started on your volunteer journey and experience the joy of helping others.

Why doing good for others boosts health and well-being