Part of being a good person is caring for people around us. We are social creatures, and we thrive in community as part of a supportive social structure.

We are also compassionate and empathetic towards each other, and cultivating these tendencies makes us happier and more fulfilled.

Volunteering our time to meet a need in our community meets many of our own needs. While the goal is to be of use to others, stepping outside our personal experience is an opportunity to expand our lives and connect beyond ourselves.

1. Volunteering Makes Us Happy

Doing a kind act for someone gives us what is often called “a warm glow.” (1) We’ve likely all felt this effect at some point. Doing something that brings joy to another person makes us feel good. Volunteering elicits this same response.

Now, this is only true if our motives are altruistic and not selfish. If we volunteer just to help ourselves, we are unlikely to receive the same benefit. It is the act of giving that makes us happy, and the pleasure it brings us is only a side effect, not the main point.

Be a volunteer: Volunteering Improves Mental Health

2. Volunteering Improves Mental Health

Similar to how volunteering our time makes us happy, it can also give our mental health a boost. (2) In many cases, getting involved with a volunteer organization opens us up to a whole new group of people. Strong feelings of support and connection develop when we regularly spend time with caring people working towards a common goal.

Being part of something good and putting our skills to work for the benefit of others builds self-confidence and decreases stress. (2)

Spiritual wellness: How Volunteering Your Time Can Improve Your Wellness

3. Volunteering Brings Fulfillment

Tending to the spiritual aspect of our being involves acknowledging there is something greater than ourselves in this world. Choosing to donate our time and effort to help others is a way to honor that reality and be a force for good.

Investing in other people and the community around us develops empathy which is essential for joy and fulfillment. A life lived only for ourselves will be empty. Reaching out to connect and care for those around us adds richness and meaning.

Volunteering Makes Us Happy, and it is key to our emotional wellness

We Have More than We Think

Spending too much of our time focused on our own concerns leads to tunnel vision, where what is happening in our lives can feel like the most important thing there is. In reality, the world is bigger than us, and it’s good to keep that in perspective.

We have more than we think, including time, which is one thing we can joyfully give away for free to something worthwhile. It is a fundamentally human act to care for another person. And we are lucky that the benefits of giving extend back to us as well.