Live Longer Doing for Others
In 2013, Dr. Suzanne Richards at the University of Exeter Medical School in Devon, England, reviewed 40 studies from the past 20 years on the link between volunteering and health. The study found that volunteering is associated with lower rates of depression, increased well-being and a 22% reduction in the later risk of dying.
That’s no big surprise to me, because I’ve found that a lifetime of volunteering and doing for those that can’t do for themselves has been an incredible blessing to my life. At the end of a long day when I’m tired and simply want to be done, stopping to do something for someone else refreshes me and keeps me on track to impact the world in a significant way.
The sense of entitlement that has permeated our American culture is a roadblock to having a heart for others. Simply put, you don’t think about the needs of those around you when you’re always thinking about yourself so much. I’ve been guilty at times myself. I’ve found that I must wake up daily with the intention of doing for others, or others get lost in the mix. That may be through regular volunteering with an organization whose mission resonates with you, or it may be when the opportunity arises to help or encourage a total stranger.
I was on the receiving end of a caring hand just last night. I was walking from my car to an Orlando Magic game and didn’t see a hole cover sticking up out of the sidewalk. I tripped and went rolling across the sidewalk like I was in a bad Saturday Night Live sketch. I was fine, but it was still nice that three people close by stopped to ask if I was okay. Such a little thing nourishes the soul. Take the time today to mean something to someone else. It will do as much for you as for them.