Doctors and psychotherapists have long observed that those who help others tend to enjoy healthier, happier lives.
Often those who have been helped want to do something in return, preferring a hand up, to a hand out. Feeling needed and appreciated, and maintaining their dignity, is important to good physical and mental health.
Experts believe that those who suffer from “the blues” or those who have experienced a life-altering trauma, such as losing a spouse, often benefit from doing volunteer work as much, or more, as those they serve. When we believe that we’re making a difference here on earth, it gives us a purpose for living and sense of satisfaction, which can lead to a longer, more fulfilled life. Studies show the more consistently we do good for others, the happier we become.
When we give to others it activates the release of dopamine, the ‘Feel Good’ hormone, which triggers what is often referred to by psychologists as a “helper’s high”. MRI studies found that this euphoria reduced chronic pain for several participants. Dopamine also reduces stress levels which has been shown to decrease depression and anxiety, boosting overall well-being and motivating us to do more kind acts, in order to get that “high”. Research revealed that dopamine also plays important roles in sleep, motor activity, and concentration which is important to learning.
Volunteer work can open doors
Although many business executives didn’t go to a private school or have parents who belonged to the country club they realized the importance of strong social connections to their success. Volunteering in the community is a way to build a solid social network. The more vast ones network, the more opportunities one has.
Networking events or business conferences often turn into social affairs with drive by networking where you are greeted you with a quick, incoherent pitch and slap a business card into your palm (aka ‘Drive by Networking’).
Some enduring relationships have been developed where people volunteer. They are low pressure, informal environments that offer the time necessary to begin the process of sharing professional and personal experiences, exploring interest, discovering values, and establishing common ground. Regardless of whether you meet an entrepreneur who operates a one-person consulting firm or a CEO who runs a multimedia enterprise, engage in meaningful conversation instead of delivering a sales pitch. Reconnect within 48 hours with an e-mail, which is executable within minutes. Direct contact, via e-mail, enables you to bypass gatekeepers and more important, allows them to process it when they’re most receptive to your message and to response at their convenience. (Phone calls can prove intrusive when they’re managing an appointment packed schedule.) Business networks are exchanges. Develop genuine relationships by taking an interest in others. The process doesn’t happen with a single conversation and a business card. Without prodding, you should be willing to offer resources or an ear when they’re confronted with challenges. Through time and commitment, you’ll find the most valuable byproduct will be relationships that last a lifetime. (Earl G. Graves Jr)
Most jobs are never posted to the public. Many companies identify potential job candidates through employee referrals. According to a recent study, referrals are the No. 1 source of new hires. A “social connection” inside a company may be in a position to make a recommendation for a job that is never advertised.
Companies encourage employees’ passion to make a difference in the community. Applicants who are heavily invested in the community bring much more to a company than just their credentials and education. Aware that volunteer work can provide invaluable skills and knowledge HR Managers often look closely at it on an applicants resume.
Whether on the ascent up the corporate ladder or already sitting at the top, one is always part of a team. Business leaders who volunteer in the community often take notice of “team members” who show leadership potential.
The best way to make a difference in the world is to begin in your own community.
“Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him.” – Albert Schweitzer
In October, millions of volunteers across the nation unite on National Make A Difference Day, the largest single-day of volunteering in the country. That link will tell about the $10,000 prize you can win for the non-profit you choose.
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