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Home / Articles / Arts & Entertainment / Celebrities /  Volunteerism: The Essence and Benefits
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Friday, October 4,2019

Volunteerism: The Essence and Benefits

By Liz Sterling  

Aristotle, who was born in 384 BC, once said: “The essence of life is to serve others and do good.” Before we move any further into this article, let’s ponder this statement for just a moment.

The essence of life, he believes, is to serve others and do good. That’s a mighty clear prescription for living. Are you serving others? Doing good? Helping a neighbor or volunteering?

 

According to volunteerhub.com, “There are a ton of studies about the health improvements volunteers gain by providing their time and money. And not just mental health benefits. One study from Ghent University stated: ‘Volunteers are as healthy as five years younger non-volunteers.’” Other research shows that what’s known as volunteer therapy can help to strengthen your body, improve your mood and lessen stress.

Just off the top of my head, I can think of other valuable benefits of volunteering.

1. Connects you with other people

2. Creates a feeling of purpose

3. Contributes to your well-being and the well-being of those you serve

4. Potentially lowers risk for memory loss

Research is now pointing the way to new information. It appears there is a decreased risk of progression to dementia from MCI (mild cognitive impairment) in people who actively participate in social activities. Social activities are defined, according to verywellhealth.com, as “including going to a place of worship, volunteering, spending time with family and friends, going to restaurants, attending special family occasions and attending organizational activities.”

Have you been somewhere recently where you’ve seen volunteers working? A hospital, an arts center, a community center, a library … have you taken note of the essence of that person? You know what I’m talking about … someone who exudes joy and happiness when they’re guiding you or offering help. To me, it is clear – when a volunteer offers their service, it is generally with a smile.

Smiling has positive effects on our brain and on our overall health. According to verywellmind.com, Smiling Is Contagious.

“Smiling not only has the power to elevate your mood, but it can also change the moods of others and make things happier. The part of your brain that is responsible for controlling your facial expression of smiling is an unconscious automatic response area. Meaning that smiling can be completely unconscious, particularly when it comes to our habit of mimicking another person´s smile. Yes, it is scientifically proven that smiles are ‘contagious!’" Volunteers and heart-driven people across the globe are now illuminating the darkness that has spread across the land and sea.… What needs to be done? And what can you do to make our world a little brighter?

Think about volunteering. With the holidays fast approaching, maybe you can give a little in a different way. Instead of online shopping or mall hunting for just the right gift … consider the gift of giving of your essence, your heart and your smile.

For those in Palm Beach County, the Community Angel Network will help you find the right nonprofit organization where you can volunteer. Their directory is free and interactive. Go to pbccan.org.

Also check out The Sun-Sentinel’s South Florida Volunteer Guide at http://guides.sun-sentinel.com/volunteerguide/ If you live outside the South Florida area, Google volunteer opportunities with your city or county name.

I also believe that just as smiles are contagious and warm hearts sooth the soul, there is probably someone you know or will meet who is currently volunteering. Pause for a moment to feel into their essence … see what you sense emanating from them, because that’s why they give and serve. They are there to touch you and to make your day better. I’ve always believed that those who have paved the way are excellent guides to help us move forward.

Get ready to love and give and serve throughout the remainder of this year, and let us all hope and pray for peace in our hearts and for our blessed Earth. Love and smiles, Liz

 

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