Acts of kindness have been linked to living longer, feeling happier and even better career prospects. When it comes to taking action to help others however, many of us fall into the trap of thinking ‘when I have more time, more money and less responsibilities, I will do something’. Little do we realize how much we have to gain from helping others. Nicola Beer, an international relationship coach, gives us some compelling reasons why you don’t want to procrastinate on helping others for a moment longer
‘What goes around comes around’ is usually said in the context of when someone is behaving badly. The same is true for kind acts. You may not believe in oneness and an interconnected universe, however, the aura that surrounds you when you do good, thereby feeling good about yourself, helps attract more good to you.
Live healthier and longer
A recent review, which included 40 studies, of the health effects of volunteering was published in BMC Public Health. It found that helping others on a regular basis could reduce early mortality rates by 22%, compared to those who didn’t participate in such activities. The study also revealed that volunteers benefit from reduced rates of depression and an increased sense of life satisfaction. Christine Carter Ph.D, Psychology Today, reported that people, 55 years and older, who volunteer for two or more organizations had a 44% lower likelihood of dying, stating that volunteering has a stronger effect than exercising four times a week! Why is this? Well, when you have more feelings of compassion and kindness, you have less room for negative emotions; claim Post and Nelson, authors of ‘Why good things happen to good people’. All of these findings imply that the more acts of kindness you take, the healthier you will be.
You Feel Good
Feeling good is probably the most cited benefit of doing good. I worked as a volunteer for a well-known crisis helpline in the UK for four years. With this kind of work, the common public perception is that it would bring about feelings of depression. My fellow volunteers and I found that the opposite was true. We used to feel grateful and honoured when we supported others.
Increase Career Prospects
Working for a charity, getting involved in fundraisers etc. shows potential employers that you care about others and have outside interests. It can also enhance your teamwork, communication, leadership and organization skills. If it is related to your vocation or an area you want to move into, it is even better.
Whether it’s husband and wife, mother and daughter or work colleagues, getting together for a charitable cause can unite people around a common purpose and can therefore strengthen relationships. In fact, many married couples I have worked with have found joint volunteer projects extremely effective in bringing them closer. Workplaces also use charitable causes to enhance employee collaboration.
Low self-esteem is common in modern day living because we live in a culture where we constantly compare our self to others on TV and social media. All we have to do is tap our phone to bring up images of people who are prettier, richer and more successful than we are. Such negative comparisons can erode self-esteem. Volunteering has the opposite effect, instead of feeling deflated we feel elevated. Helping others less fortunate is the fastest way to gain perspective on our problems and stresses. It can literally make our worries disappear when we realize how lucky we are not to have the struggles some others face.
Set A Good Example
With credit cards, internet shopping and fast delivery services, we are able to buy whatever we want and have it now. We tend to forget that 795 million people – or one in nine people in the world – do not have enough to eat and 663 million people lack access to clean water, as per The Hunger Project 2016. We need to remind ourselves of these startling facts and set a good example by taking action.
Many of us who want to hit the gym, start running or follow a new exercise plan struggle because we lack the motivation to see it through. Having a cause to get up early for and to push you forward when you feel like quitting can be all the difference to your fitness program, especially if it’s something like training for a marathon that is raising money for a cause.