Volunteering is as natural to me as living. You see, I was brought up with the idea that helping others grows me as a person of value and compassion. My parents, however, were very careful to make sure I was developing a strong inner core for myself and not simply using volunteer work to compensate for my own lack of self-love. As they taught me about giving, they would also question why I was volunteering for this or that.
Thanks to my parents, I've been a volunteer is some form or other most of my life. I have been blessed with receiving their wonderful philosophy of service. Many of you may not have had this type of mentorship, so let me give you my perspective on volunteering.
Reasons People Volunteer
Volunteering is important for as many reasons are there are people and needs.
1. Some people volunteer because they just love helping others. Their own joy of giving and making a difference makes them feel valued and valuable to the ones they are serving. They receive back a thousandfold by seeing the impacts created for the people they are helping.
2. Others volunteer because they feel a need to give back to a community that has been good to them and they want to express their gratitude by paying it forward into their community. This is powerful leverage that can build lasting beneficial changes in a viral way.
3. Still others volunteer because it gives them a sense of purpose and meaning to their lives. It's like their contribution to others is fulfilling a critical aspect for their own self-expression in the world.
4. And, of course, many people volunteer to gain valuable new experience in a certain field and pay their dues for developing expertise and career advancement opportunities.
5. Last but not least, great volunteers enjoy themselves while giving to others. Long term studies have shown that volunteers live longer, are in better health, have lower rates of depression and less heart disease.
The poet John Donne said it best, "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main..."
Share Your Gifts With Others
Everyone has unique gifts to offer, bar none. When you share your gifts from your heart, you cannot help but feel great! If you don't feel these self-rewards, then you are either volunteering in an area that doesn't fit who you are, or else you've got some deep inner work to complete first.
Many of us don't think that we can really make a difference. That's why, if you have a desire to help out, do some research and find an opportunity to try it out. Your very own community will have plenty of opportunities to do so. If you are new at this, it's also a good idea to choose the volunteer leader to whom you feel you can relate to and learn from.
The opportunities to make a real difference and impact the lives of others present themselves everyday. The question is, will we take advantage of them or let them pass by like an afternoon breeze?