As if we needed any further reasons to acknowledge the importance of volunteering! The following is a selection titled Surprising Secrets from the World's Happiest People - An excerpt from an article by Dan Buettner in the May 15 issue of Bottom Line magazine.
The happiest people almost always volunteer in some fashion - at church, with environmental groups, for social-service organizations and the like. Volunteering means spending time with others, and it also takes your mind off your own problems and increases self-worth and pride in your community.
Studies have shown that altruism has an effect on the brain that is similar to that of sugar. It creates feelings of well-being, along with an addictive feedback loop that encourages people to keep doing it.
Also, volunteers are healthier. They tend to weigh less than those who don't volunteer, and they're even less likely to suffer a heart attack.
Commit to volunteering for a set period of time - say, once a week for four weeks. People are more likely to keep doing it when they make this initial commitment - and then get "hooked" on the rewards.
Dan Buettner is the founder of Blue Zones, an organization that studies the regions of the world where people commonly live active past the age of 100. Based in Minneapolis, he is a writer for National Geographic and author of Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way. www.BlueZones.com