Did you know that volunteering is a key component to fostering happiness in people’s lives? If you’ve ever volunteered, you are familiar with that warm feeling you get from having done something in service to another. Doing things for others gives us a sense of purpose and meaningfulness which leaves us buoyed by the experience. When volunteering we develop relationships which enhances our connectedness to our community and world.
Recently, Manon was invited to facilitate an evening with the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto in celebration of their volunteers. This evening of recognition was intended to remind them of the meaningful impact these volunteers have on the lives of others. As they connected with each other, and their intentions of the heart, the volunteers reflected on the fact that they felt their lives were more meaningful because of their contribution.
One of the by-products of volunteering is an increase in your level of happiness. People often don’t realize that the smallest of things that they do for others can have an enormous effect over time. Often referred to as ‘the butterfly effect’, even the smallest occurrence can have its impact felt over distance and time with sometimes dramatic results. When you volunteer, you are not only changing someone’s present you are also changing their future.
Researchers in the Interdisciplinary Program for Empathy and Altruism Research at the University of Michigan offer some further insights into the benefits of volunteering:
- Volunteering has health benefits for people who do it in order to help others rather than themselves
- Volunteering means we are getting off the couch and out of the house and that physical activity makes us more fit and able to deal with stress
- Social connections experienced during volunteering give us human contact that enables us to bond and care for others
- It feels good to volunteer and this deep sense of happiness is associated with longer and healthier lives
- Too much volunteering can have negative impacts so if you feel overwhelmed it’s time to scale back
We want to express our gratitude to all volunteers for the powerful impact that they have on our society. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.