Studies indicate that this one choice reduces mortality rates by 22 percent and reduces depression as well.
Life goes by so quickly doesn’t it? Here we are asking ourselves (again) how are we in the Holiday season already? How is this year nearly over?
It’s a question we always ask ourselves in December, followed shortly after by a list of our New Year’s resolutions. During this time, it can feel like an accumulated ball of energy. This is a time we look back and reflect on the kind of year we had. We then take that reflection and try to set intentions for the upcoming year.
Regardless of what our reflection-to-resolution is about, I believe that all of it comes down to one simple thing: To improve.
Maybe it’s losing weight, stepping up our career, fixing our relationships, or helping other people out more, we ultimately reflect, and then set resolutions to try to improve our lives, or the lives of others. It’s a time of the year that we can really tap into our heart space and ask ourselves what more can we do in this world.
One of my favorite aspects of the Holiday season is just how many people experience gratitude. This can look many ways, from simply being around family, to getting the gifts you wanted, to volunteering and helping people in need out.
Unfortunately, not everybody has a family or can afford food, let alone gifts. Now that’s not something new. It’s the reason that one out of four Americans volunteer each year a total of 7.7 billion hours’ worth for around $173 billion. There are clearly many people out there who have big hearts and want to give, especially around this time.
However, that means that three out of four people didn’t volunteer. If you were one of them, don’t feel bad! The following information might encourage you!
If you haven’t been inspired to help others out for selfless reasons (after all, there is a whole debate over whether true altruism even exists, right?), then do it for selfish reasons! Say what? That’s right! I’m giving you permission to be selfish. Do it because it’s good for you, because it really is.
Did you know that according to TIME Magazine, volunteering and helping others out can actually reduce early mortality rates by a whopping 22 percent? Yes. 22 percent!
“The review, which included 40 studies and was published in BMC Public Health, also revealed that volunteers benefit from reduced rates of depression and an increased sense of life satisfaction and well-being — doing good, it seems, made them feel good. “Our systematic review shows that volunteering is associated with improvements in health,” – Dr. Suzanne Richards of the University of Exeter Medical School in England
Volunteering also helps create a sense of purpose, increase social connection, instill confidence, magnify gratitude, and create a type of joy that no amount of consumerism can purchase. It is the reason that people who volunteer report higher levels of happiness, which obviously creates lower levels of stress, dementia, and depression.
So if I have to tell you to do it just for yourself, then I will; because ultimately, if a hungry child gets to eat, the end result is worth it. If the collective’s intention at the turn of each year is to improve, I can’t think of a better way to do so. By volunteering and contributing to causes, you are saving and changing other people’s lives, but it’s a win/win situation because we get what we give, so you just may ultimately be saving your own.
We have so many different opportunities to help others. For some people, it’s volunteering at a soup kitchen, a school, or a hospital. For others, it’s making donations to a cause. It could even be a random act of kindness. We can all do something to make a difference, even if we just touch one life.
This truth hit home for me personally when I had a chance meeting with a homeless brother and sister who had no money and had been abandoned by their drug-addicted parents. Separated for years, they’d recently reconnected and moved to my area to start a new life only to have everything they had managed to scrape together taken from them when their car, holding all of their possessions, was stolen. They had no money, no food, no place to stay for the Holidays.
The weight of being the older brother weighs heavily on him, he had dreams of taking care of his little sis. And it breaks her heart to see him trying to take the blame for what was someone else’s crime and no fault of his.
I opened my home to them, got to know them a little better. It may not be practical for you or for me to open our homes indefinitely, but one resource that most of us can leverage is the internet. I set up an individual fundraiser page for them, hoping for enough to get them through the tough times and back on their feet. It took me five minutes to set up an online page. In the first couple of hours, I raised some cash and surprised these two young people with the money.
It was at least enough to replace their ID’s so that they could apply to get into a shelter. It’s a start.
As a recording artist, another of my resources is the ability to record a video, so I set up a camera and asked them to tell their story. Then I surprised them with the money. It completely changed their holidays.
You can do something similar. You can leverage whatever resources you have; time, money, connections, talents, even a smile, to make someone’s life better. And, as studies show, to make your life longer and better as well.
So get out there and make a difference in somebody’s story, because everybody has one.
Here is theirs:
Thank you and happy holidays to you all.
There are many organizations to connect you to the lives of others who need you. Some Resources:
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