If you’re looking for ways to be happier in your life, volunteering should be at the top of the list. A study published in the March 2020 issue of The Journal of Happiness Studies found that people become happier as they volunteer. Giving back can help your mental and physical health, and it can even help you find a job.
From solving issues in your community to embarking on international concerns, there are myriad ways to volunteer. Find the opportunity that most enriches your life, and define the role that best suits your needs by asking yourself the following questions.
Think about the issues or causes that stir your feelings. Do you want to help ensure that no child goes to bed hungry or share your used books with U.S. troops? Perhaps you want to work with animals or help find a cure for a specific disease. The opportunities are as individual as you are.
Spend some time thinking about the ways you want to contribute to making the world better, happier, healthier, and fairer. Those passion points are an indication that you’re going to feel good about donating time to those causes. With the myriad opportunities out there, you can volunteer for a wide array of causes in a safe and remote way.
If you lead a busy life and are concerned about the amount of time you have to give back, “micro-volunteering” may be an option. It’s possible to make a difference in minutes by taking on smaller roles, breaking down bigger volunteer projects into bite-size chunks, or even texting or talking on the phone. Conversely, if you have flexibility and time to fill, you may choose to work toward taking on leadership positions on nonprofit boards or longer-term volunteer projects in which you can immerse yourself.
Are you the person who ends up being the event or project organizer in your life or work? Do you like to work on projects by yourself or as part of a big group? Choosing opportunities tailored to the way you like to work or the role you prefer to play is important. For example, you may wish to use your volunteer time to get outdoors more or stay at home and help people one-on-one.
Volunteering can also help connect you to the community and find social outlets. So, if that’s something you’re seeking, a role where you’re going to be by yourself most of the time may not be right for you. You may also want to look for opportunities that let you volunteer with family members. Spend some time thinking about what type of role will best suit your preferences.
You may have skills or talents you’ve developed through work or hobbies. Think about how you can best serve and the skills you want to use. For example, if you love to sew or knit or have a green thumb, there are many organizations that need your help. If you have specific expertise through your job, you may wish to use those skills to make a difference. You could, for instance, use your graphic design or accounting knowledge to help an organization’s administrative team.
Such questions can help you hone in on a volunteer opportunity that will not only have positive impact but will also enrich your life. Volunteerism is a chance to bring the issues and causes you care about front and center in your life—even if you don’t have much time.
Once you have some ideas about the kinds of ways you’d like to give back, visit Create the Good and search for the opportunity that best suits you.