Help your elderly neighbor trim her lawn. Spend some time mentoring a child. Volunteer to help with the storm relief effort. Sign up to work at the local soup kitchen. Donate some clothes to the homeless shelter.
These gestures make the world a better place and the benefits may bounce right back to you by ensuring a longer, happier, healthier life.
A recent study conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service found a significant connection between volunteering and good health. The report shows that volunteers have longer lives, higher functional ability, lower rates of heart disease and fewer bouts with depression.
As it turns out, those warm, fuzzy feelings that you experience when you help someone are extremely beneficial to your own well-being. They translate into a healthier, more fulfilling life.
Researchers agree that volunteering increases a person’s energy, sense of empowerment and self-esteem. These types of positive emotions can actually strengthen and enhance the immune system by boosting the body’s production of endorphins which affect mood and also stimulate the dilation of blood vessels which can lead to a healthier heart.
Positive feelings increase the body’s production of T-cells (cells in the immune system that help the body fight disease and recover from injury and illness). Positive emotions also encourage the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that improves mood and encourages feelings of well-being.
It’s Good to do Good
As one mental health professional put it, “It’s good to do good.” That statement makes perfect sense to the millions of volunteers who have seen the gratitude in the eyes of a homeless person who is handed a hot meal, a child who craves a hug or a family who needs a place to spend the night after a tornado destroys their home and everything in it.
Meditation Enhances the Benefits of Helping Others
One of the reasons that helping others is so beneficial is that it improves our sense of self-worth. In fact, helping others has many of the same emotional benefits that can be found through meditation.
People who meditate tend to be more self-aware and also more in tune to the needs of those around them. Many people find that mindfulness meditation increases their ability to express compassion to themselves and to those around them.
Set aside a few minutes each day to sit in quiet reflection. Breathe deeply and exhale slowly. Focus on the here and now. Eliminate all distraction and negative thoughts from your mind. You will find yourself energized and feel more connected with your body and soul.
Your physical and mental health will automatically improve when you restore spiritual and emotional balance on focus on your role in making the world a better place.
Take some time each day to still your body, quiet your mind and contemplate ways to transfer your healing energy to those who need it most. And remember that kindness, like a boomerang, always returns to you.
Explore Ways to Improve Your World
Chances are there are many people in your neighborhood and in your community who need your help. Check with your local senior centers, hospitals, homeless shelters and humane societies to explore the many opportunities out there.
Or simply take a walk down the street. There’s probably a person nearby who is struggling and needs a helping hand. Mediation increases your ability to be aware of the needs of others.
Reference: Operation Meditation;