ISSUE 96   ISSN 1712-468

You must give some time to your fellow men. Even if it's a little thing, do something for others—something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.

Alert Schweitzer
French Philosopher and Physician

My Source Experience - Journal

My Source


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This Week´s Inspiration

The Gift that Keeps On Giving: Volunteerism


A person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service; as one who renders a service or takes part in a transaction while having no legal concern or interest

Volunteerism: The act or practice of doing volunteer work in community service

Did you know that by volunteering, you will improve your overall health and wellness? Before I explain the science behind this claim, let’s discuss the gift of volunteerism.

In recent years, we have witnessed excellent examples of individuals sacrificing their time and resources to help others. Katrina, the tsunami, and other natural disasters brought out the best in most people. 

A culture of volunteerism is a critical part of a healthy and successful society and a healthier life for you and me. The opposite of being self-centered and self-absorbed, giving to someone or to a cause without expecting remuneration or acknowledgement is a characteristic of selflessness. As an additional benefit, the act of giving contributes to your well-being.

Not long ago, ABC’s 20/20 program investigated the type of impact being a volunteer had on individuals. 

  • They first identified individuals who had never been volunteers and had them complete a simple life-satisfaction and happiness assessment. 

  • The individuals then volunteered for various community groups. One served at a soup kitchen; another helped clean up a park and playground; another read aloud at a library to inner city elementary students; and so on. 

After their experiences as volunteers, the individuals again completed the life-satisfaction and happiness assessment. Without exception, their scores improved. 

During the follow-up interview, they all felt they had personally received more from the volunteering experience than the people or causes to whom they were giving. In other words, by volunteering, their life-happiness and satisfaction scale received a net gain. 

Researchers wanted to see if they could determine what was happening internally in these people, to explain the improvement in their scores. They conducted MRI scans to observe and document their brainwave activities. 

To their surprise, they saw heightened activity in the “feelings of wellness” area of the participants’ brains. In fact, this brainwave activity was similar to the response people have when taking drugs like cocaine. 

Our overall well-being improves when we give to others. When a person says he or she is high on life, that’s not far from the truth. Science has now discovered why we love to volunteer and give—it makes us feel good! And who doesn’t want that?!

Last year, an 80-year-young women was interviewed at a local clothes-for-the-needy organization where she volunteered. She sorted, organized, selected, and distributed to the many who could use clothing. She was there 6 days a week, 8 hours a day—and more, if required. Her faced beamed with joy and she had a bounce in her step. She did not look 80, that’s for sure. Not only was her daily commitment amazing, she had been volunteering there for the past 20 years! No pay—just the joy of helping others. 

What about you? Are you volunteering your time and resources for the benefit of others? If yes—great! Continue your path. If not, you can improve your life by stepping in to volunteer.

  • Make sure your volunteer work fits your passions, schedule, and lifestyle. For example, I do a lot of project work for our kids’ private school because I can control the timelines. A continuous commitment at a set time is less manageable for me, given my travel and work schedule. 

  • Be part of a cause that excites you. 

  • The benefits are not limited to volunteering your time; all the other resources that you influence count, too. Perhaps you have a pickup truck the Scouts can use for their bottle drive or space in your office to hold an event.

  • Each of us has specific talents and gifts that we can give, so play to your strengths, especially when volunteering. 

What local causes could use your assistance?

To assist you on your journey to discover your gifts, talents, and strengths and to volunteer in an environment that best serves you, engage the following resources.

  • Start with my new book, My Source Experience Journal, then use these assessments to provide benchmarks and a road map for your volunteering success.

This Week´s Action Steps

The Gift that Keeps On Giving: Volunteerism 

  1. Do you volunteer your time and resources for others? If not, why not?

  2. If you have never volunteered, it’s time. Otherwise you could become a self-centered and self-absorbed person—which most of us don’t want to be.

  3. Can you think of friends you can encourage to volunteer? Make a list now.

  4. Volunteering increases your overall life satisfaction and feeling of well-being.

  5. Ensure that your volunteering comes from a place of passion and enjoyment, not simply obligation. Over time, volunteering in an area where you have no passion or gifts will wear on you. 
  6. There are no rules about how individuals should volunteer. Make sure you are volunteering in a way that enables you to give the most. Play to your strengths.

  7. Volunteering is not limited to your time. You can use your other capabilities or resources—your home or office space or your cash resources.

  8. The science is clear: Those who volunteer feel a response in their brain similar to cocaine.

  9. To assist you on your journey to know your gifts, talents, and strengths and to volunteer in an environment that best serves your talents, start with my new book, My Source Experience Journal.

  10. Use the following assessments to provide benchmarks and a road map for your volunteering success. 
  1. Even though giving is one of the greatest gifts, in the end you benefit more from giving than those who are on the receiving end of your volunteer efforts. Your feelings of happiness, satisfaction, and accomplishment will permeate every part of your life.

Until next time, keep Living On Purpose!.

Ken Keis

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