Being kind and volunteering one's time are selfish acts. Research has shown that helping others through volunteer work actually increases one's overall sense of well-being, including building emotional resilience and reducing stress levels. The effects are so powerful that volunteering is recommended to those going through mourning or wanting to beat an addiction.
"I call it 'give and glow,' or sometimes 'the giver's glow,'" says Dr. Stephen Post of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love and the author of Is Ultimate Reality Unlimited Love? "It's a side effect or byproduct, and I always like to emphasize that you're helping others because it's the good thing to do, you know, it's the golden rule and all that. But as it turns out in general it's a very healthy way to go."
Are you having trouble with a teen in your family? Maybe volunteering a few hours of his time reading to residents of a nursing home is just what he needs. Volunteering promotes a healthy lifestyle, reduces cholesterol, and combats stress among teens.
For those looking to overcome alcohol dependency through the program Alcoholics Anonymous, studies have found that volunteering during the first year of the program doubled the chances of recovery. "It's good to be good, and science says it's so," says Post.
For more on the benefits of being kind and volunteering, watch this clip from Big Think's interview: