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Living an other-centred Life:Benefits of Volunteering

For the last eight years I have been a volunteer an organization called A New World Altogether (http://neworldaltogether.org/) where we reach out to communities, especially to vulnerable children, widows the hospitalised and the incarcerated. We do so by identifying the needs of these vulnerable groups and working towards practical steps (free medical services, free education, basic necessities, spiritual counselling)that will enable these groups of persons live decent lives.

Have you ever thought about what it means to be of service?

Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Recently we went on another relief mission to Garoua, the Northern part of my Country. Garoua, also spelled Garua, is a town located in northeastern Cameroon. The town lies along the right bank of the Benue River, north-northeast of Yaoundé, the national capital. It is situated at the junction of the road between Maroua and Ngaoundéré and the Benue waterway and is the chief commercial centre of the region.Predominantly a muslim region, it has in the recent years been marked alongside the other two northern regions as unsafe because of terrorist activities by the Boko Haram extremist terrorist group. Though home to the first president of Cameroon, inhabitants have their fair share of problems ranging from health care, feeding, clothing, education.. added to coping with the influx of thousands of refugees who fled from the Central African Republic (CAR) to Cameroon, many of them wounded from attacks, dehydrated or traumatised.

Benefits of compassionate service:

Looking back over my life I must admit that most of my happiest times have occurred when I was actively engaged in helping others. That’s why it should come as no surprise that it is practically impossible to create a happy, meaningful and rewarding life without being of service to others in some way. Even more, serving others ultimately serves us in many ways.

We are Happy/ Fulfilled. 

According to science a part of our brain lights up when we help others. That part of our brain then sends out feel-good chemicals like dopamine, and possibly serotonin. “These chemicals help us feel joy and delight — helper’s high.” A common reaction is that “some people feel more tranquil, peaceful, serene; others, warmer and more trusting.” When we serve others we gain a deeper purpose and meaning and that always results in greater happiness and fulfilment.

It Reduces stress. 

When we help others our bodies release a hormone called oxytocin, which buffers stress and helps us maintain social trust and tranquility. Along with oxytocin are the other chemicals like dopamine, which is a mood-elevating neurotransmitter. These drugs tend to push aside negative emotions and reduce the stress level.

We have a Longer lifespan. 

Several international studies confirm that serving can add years to your life. In fact, current studies suggest up to a 22% reduction in mortality rates! How much do we have to do? Studies confirm that a regular commitment of as little as 25 hours per year is beneficial.

 Great health Benefits

Statistics show volunteering will lower  blood pressure, because of the lower stress, and the effects of being active, social and altruistic. It also reduces mild depression. Mild depression is linked to isolation in most cases. Volunteering helps to keep a person in regular contact with others and to help develop a social support system.

It Benefits your career. 

That’s right. Volunteering  for the right reasons can  turn your life around and affect your work. When you lead with your heart as well as your head, the result is always good. Instead of feeling depressed or unfulfilled at work, you will feel more happy, confident and energised.  Find something that makes you feel generous and purposeful — and that will spread to every single area of your life. 

This is what gave my life a sense of purpose and worth. While serving others I discovered what really made me happy:

It birth in me compassion and a desire to help people grow and stand out.

I got  out of depression and health issues.

My youth is renewed. Many are surprised when I tell them how old I am because I look way younger.

I found a community of selfless people who support and care  for me.

It brought me to a deep understanding of God as love. Taught me how this love can flow through me to others.

I got a deeper and more purposeful vision for my work. I know am not just an entrepreneur, I am an entrepreneur with compassion and a heart for others.

So does all form of volunteering have benefit?

Not really. Helping can be good for you if you really care about those you’re helping. If you feel exploited or compelled in any way, refrain than stress out doing it for the wrong reason.

Volunteering isn’t always fun. On the last trip we had to travel for close to 30hours to get to destination by road and by train. I have never sat down so long in my life  but it is always meaningful and gratifying. Looking back at it today i know I will do it again. I am conscious contributing to others and my community is a privilege. This has boosted my awareness of the blessings in my life.

Albert Einstein said, “Only a life lived in the service of others is worth living.”

While crafting yourself from inside out, go confidently into the world. SMILE at a stranger, even when you don’t feel like smiling. Live a life of service.You will discover that as much as you give selflessly, it will return to you abundantly.

So start today. Start by noticing the first opportunity you come across to serve someone else. I choose to serve my community through http://neworldaltogether.org/ You can do same. 

Take that opportunity. And then the next. And the next.

Happy serving😊

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6 thoughts on “Living an other-centred Life:Benefits of Volunteering

  1. What a beautiful blog Leila! I love the premise that volunteering is good for us and appreciate all the ways you highlighted that. I grew up in a home where service to others was modeled and encouraged and started volunteering from a very young age. It definitely gave me purpose and meaning and I have had the opportunity to grow my leadership, public speaking skills, compassion and understanding of the world as a result. I also love working with groups of people to make the world a better place in some way and find it very empowering. Volunteering gives me hope in a world with so much suffering and so many challenges. I love your recommendation to “Find something that makes you feel generous and purposeful — and that will spread to every single area of your life.” Thank you so much for sharing your experience and wisdom!

  2. Leila, this is a beautiful, heart-centering article. I, too, believe that when we are of service to those in need we expand our love of life and Self.

    Thank you. Your words have encouraged me to continue pursuing an idea to assist entrepreneurs who experience the death of a child to suicide.

  3. “Volunteering for the right reasons can turn your life around and affect your work. When you lead with your heart as well as your head, the result is always good.” I LOVE THIS!!! Thank you for inspiring me today!

  4. Thank you so much Leila for this beautiful write-up. Being at the service if others is truly the only life worth living.

  5. I love volunteering and always get so much more than I give. I can feel myself expanding each time, I step out and work with others to respond to needs or to make change. Thank you for the reminder.

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