I’ve been volunteering in the Living Yoga office since I moved to Portland in early 2010. If you watched the video above you’ll understand why I love this organization so much. Friday night is the Living Yoga annual gala, their biggest fundraiser of the year, and I’ll be there taking photos of the event! I love volunteering because it makes me happy and research backs up this assertion.
Stephen Post is the director of The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, a group that focuses on the scientific study of service, compassion and altruism. In a recent report called, Good to be Good, he examined more than 30 different studies, which focused on the health benefits of volunteering and observed that, “a loving and helpful life is more likely to be a happier, healthier, longer one.”
The meta-analysis showed that people who volunteer regularly experience lower levels of stress, aren't as likely to be depressed and have a lower mortality rate. A few studies in Good to be Good indicated that the people who exhibit these health benefits volunteer about 2 hours a week; that's only 100 hours a year!
In addition, research strongly suggests that one way to increase your happiness level is by giving money to charity. It’s what scholars call “pro-social spending.” If you don’t have the time to do hands-on volunteer work, giving money is a strategy that can boost your happiness level.