The guest speaker at our Memorial Day service this year, a military veteran, suggested that when we use our time and talents to help others in need, we are honoring those who serve our country. This broader view of Memorial Day got me thinking. The John Holmes quote above sums it up: altruism boosts well-being.
Recall times you have helped others, in big or small ways. How did it broaden your perspective of life’s challenges? What new strengths and skills did you discover? How connected did you feel to others? How much did the sense of purpose boost your energy and natural motivation?
On my bucket list when I was in my 20’s was to travel and volunteer somewhere. Peace Corps was a bit too much of a commitment for me at the time. In my search for something similar, I found the Christian Appalachian Project. The 16 months I spent there as a full-time volunteer was a game-changer for my life. (This is also a plug. They are looking for volunteers right now so if you or someone you know is looking for an experience that will add to life in immeasurable ways, please check out their website).
Be Like Britt is another amazing organization with incredible volunteer opportunities (yep, another plug if you are looking for an amazing week of discovery, perspective and inspiration).
There are so many ways to share our time and talents. And we don’t need to go far to volunteer. Many organizations have volunteer opportunities that can be done right from your home.
When volunteering to help others comes from a sense of purpose* and meaning in life, it creates a ripple effect of activating well-being. The energy and sense of purpose remind us we are alive, connected, and have value.
*However…guilt-based volunteering does not do much for well-being. Guilt triggers our alarm system and puts healing and smart thinking on hold. Before saying yes to helping out, check in with yourself. Why am I doing this? If the answer is guilt, the healthiest thing to do for everyone is to either look deeper for a personal meaning or find a way you can help that is inspired from your heart. If neither are possible, the healthiest response is “no, thank you.”
Activate it: List all the ways you volunteer for a cause to help those in need. (We often minimize all we do for others – so listing it is just a reminder for when we feel like we “should” do more). What is important to you about sharing your time and talents in this way? Let go of the guilt-based actions (without guilt) and choose the ones that give you energy.
May You Be Well,
Janet Huehls, MA, RCEP, CHWC
Clinical Exercise Physiologist
Health and Wellness Coach
Yoga and Meditation Teacher