Thank you to our guest blogger for January, a Seniorly Contributor!
The benefits of giving are numerous. It has been scientifically proven to decrease depression, improve longevity, and foster social connections that can lead to better quality of life. No matter how little you have to give, even a few dollars can make a huge difference in the lives of people in need.
Discover the top ways that volunteering can benefit you and others:
One of the major ways that giving impacts your mood is by fostering gratitude in your life. In fact, “Barbara Fredrickson, a pioneering happiness researcher, suggests that cultivating gratitude in everyday life is one of the keys to increasing personal happiness.” In her book Positivity, she writes that “When you express your gratitude in words or actions, you not only boost your own positivity but [other people’s] as well.” So it’s really no wonder that you feel better and more motivated after volunteering. The energy you put out into the world is reciprocated, leaving you feeling refreshed and grateful for all of the wonderful things you have.
Giving has also been proven to increase your overall quality of life. According to good sources, “A wide range of research has linked different forms of generosity to better health, even among the sick and elderly.” This season, consider making volunteering a family event, and get grandparents and grandchildren involved in activities that make a difference. Volunteering may help aging relatives remain healthier for longer. “A 1999 study led by Doug Oman of the University of California, Berkeley, found that elderly people who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than were non-volunteers.” If longevity isn’t a great reason to volunteer this season, I don’t know what is! Get out there and give back to the community in some tangible way.
Last but not least, giving has been proven to foster social connections that are beneficial to all parties involved. Whether you are serving food at a local soup kitchen or cleaning up a park with fellow volunteers, “These exchanges promote a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to others—and research has shown that having positive social interactions is central to good mental and physical health.” Elderly isolation can be a major concern, and volunteering can relieve this by sparking friendships that help elders feel more socially connected.
What’s more, giving can improve our opinions of others and coincidentally make us feel better about ourselves. “When we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them.” Writer Sonja Lyubomirsky writes in her book The How of Happiness, “Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably.” This creates a positive feedback loop, in which the volunteering community supports one another and perceives everyone in their best light.
So take some time to give back to your community. Chances are, it will not only spread love to those in need, but also improve your overall quality of life and lead to better health down the road.
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