Volunteer … and live to be 100!

Why do you volunteer? Or, probably foremost on your mind, why bother to volunteer?

There are many reasons, particularly — what else are you going to do while your student is studying and learning? Few of us can actually work while here in Grenada, and believe it or not, the amount of television shows and movies on Netflix are actually quite finite.

Allen Omoto, a psychology professor at the California school Claremont Graduate University, says most of the drivers affecting someone volunteering are more about the benefits to yourself, not just how it benefits other people.

In volunteering, someone gains understanding, as in the desire to learn new things and acquire knowledge. They also have enhanced esteem, which allows them to feel better about themselves and find greater stability in life. And, of course, there’s personal development, where you acquire new skills, test your capabilities, and stretch yourself.

But it’s not all about me, me, me. Omoto also says primary drivers for volunteering are about other people, too. Primarily, it gives you a sense of community, where you make the world — or your piece of it — better. And then there are humanitarian values, where serving and helping others, is important.

“The ones that get the higher rates of endorsement are the ‘other focused’ ones,” Omoto says, according to the book, “How to Live to 100.” “But it’s the ‘self-focused’ ones that predict length of service.”

People who don’t volunteer often tend to think they don’t measure up to those who do.

“They put them up on a pedestal,” says Mark Snyder, a psychologist with the University of Minnesota.

But no matter how much you volunteer (or even how little), you do measure up. And if you want to feel like you do measure up, the experts say you should volunteer more, not less.

“It’s clear that more is better, at least up (to) a point,” says Jane Allyn Piliavin, a retired sociologist from the University of Wisconsin. “The more consistently you do it, the better your psychology benefits.”

So what do you say? Ready to volunteer yet?

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