Volunteering for the Right Reasons

As I was checking off items on my morning to do list, I came across an article posted on LinkedIn titled, People who Volunteer Live Longer which captured my attention.

What a great way to convince more students to volunteer, I think.  Not only will it help expand their network, build their resume, but it will also increase their longevity on this planet.  Then I read the article. It made me check myself, so to speak.  I had it all wrong and maybe I’m not the only one.

We encourage students/job seekers to volunteer by focusing on what service can do for them, what they will get out of it. The article states that volunteering should be a truly selfless act.  Then and only then will we receive any benefit from it.  Only then will we experience the joy in helping someone who needs it.  Only then will we lose ourselves in a meaningful activity and experience what it means to get outside of our head for a moment.

The author, Remy Melina, refers to a study from the University of Michigan which concluded that those individuals who partook in charitable activities with the motive solely on others and not on themselves actually increased their lifespan.  Those whose reasoning was to feel good about themselves, meet more people, look good etc. (motive on self) maintained the same lifespan had they not volunteered.  Apparently when we focus on helping others, volunteering is joyful and a stress reducer, when we focus on what we will gain, it becomes just another item on our to-do list and is a stress inducer.

The best way to volunteer selflessly is to think about an organization that is meaningful to you.

Who knows, you might meet some like-minded people who share your values and yes this will expand your network and look good on your resume.  Just remember when you give for the sake of giving, you gain; only don’t focus on the gaining part.