I love helping others.
It’s something that was built into the fiber of who I am. The way I understand the world is that those who can help others, should. It spawns from the co-mingling of a comic book education and “nice guy” genetics.
Ok, two terms that I made up that you might not understand. Some quick definitions:
Comic Book Education: I learned my moral system from the likes of Peter Parker, Bruce Wayne, and Clark Kent. They had no requirement to help others. However, they all had parental figures that taught the same lessons. Thomas Wayne was a philanthropist, The Kents were farm folk (helping others is what you do), and Uncle Ben reminds us that “with great power comes great responsibility”.
“Nice Guy” Genetics: My Grammy – may she rest in peace – and my mother both taught me the same thing: treat others the way you want to be treated. They didn’t only teach me with words, however. They exemplified it as I was raised. Sure, it took a while for me to get it, but it was always there in the foundation of my upbringing.
Now, back to the article…
The way I was raised led up to one inevitable result. I help others. I don’t have to, and I don’t expect anything in return. I do it because it’s what I feel decent people should do. I don’t judge those who don’t volunteer, but I do profess how wonderful a thing it is.
Here’s what I tell others about volunteering. When you offer your time and effort, you connect with people in ways you’d never imagine, and you get a strong sense of satisfaction knowing that someone’s life is better because you gave of yourself to them. Ok, maybe it sounds cliché, but it’s true.
It turns out that those who volunteer are happier people too. I can attest that I tend to be happier after giving my time to aid others. It’s something that, I think, comes not only from that sense of satisfaction, but also from our very creation.
Factually, humanity is interconnected. However, most Americans (I can’t speak for other countries) spend the bulk of their lives in a self-centered, narcissistic mindset. It’s a mindset developed by, in my opinion, advertising. Many companies feed us fantasies of self-indulgence, of “doing things for me”. Rarely does advertising play in to a spirit of community.
When we volunteer, we must venture away from this place that society lives into a place of doing for others. It is from this “re-connectedness” that I believe the happiness springs from. We were built to be connected, and therefore can only truly be full when we’re living in that space.
The idea is backed by scientific study, as well. Ben Schiller of Fast Coexist offers this interesting summary of the findings supporting happiness from volunteerism. After you read it, go give some time to help someone.
|Michael McNew is a friend of mine from the past decade. Obviously, he is passionate about helping people. He is the founder of his own company: Visceral Concepts.|