How Helping Others Helps Ourselves

(Photo: Helga Weber)

Helping Other People Will Aid In Your Own Personal Development

“Do Unto Others…” The well familiar  “Golden Rule” is not only great words to live by. Many experts agree that the key to achieving your own success and happiness – starts with helping others find theirs. And it seems from corporate America to individuals, people are getting that message.

While a recent USA Today study found that charitable giving in terms of dollars was way down last year – volunteerism is up. In fact a similar study conducted by the University of Minnesota found that 1 in 3 adults does some kind of volunteer work. There are many reasons why people might volunteer, from a passion for community service, to just a selfless and fundamental need to help those less fortunate. And while the very nature of volunteering is giving of oneself without expecting anything in return – those that give back, may be receiving quite a bit as well. Simply stated it feels good to help other people. But beyond that there are many other personal growth benefits to reap by helping others.

Through volunteering you can:

  • Learn a new skill, or practice ones that need improving.
  • Use skills or training you do have, but are not given an the opportunity to use on your full-time job.
  • Meet new people, make new friends, and become more aware of issues in your community.
  • Fulfill a curiosity about how a particular organization or agency works or operates.
  • Gain a greater understanding of other people, other places, or other cultures.
  • Fulfill perceived humanitarian, moral, or religious obligations.
  • Meet people that share similar goals and values.

Helping others can help you to find your place in the world. Volunteerism builds self-esteem, and can make you feel that you are doing your part to make the world a better place – and the truth is you probably are.

To all those who may think there is something inherently wrong to volunteering for some kind of personal gain, many psychologists argue that there is no such thing as true altruism, and every human action is driven by some kind of motivation. But more importantly, what is the harm? Who is hurt by the person that gives to a cause or a charity because they know they will get something out of it? The charity? Certainly not, they need as many good volunteers as they can get. In fact, many psychologists who study empathy and altruism – suggest that if charitable organizations can learn more about the why people give back – and can address more of those motivations – it will only help them gain and keep more good volunteers.

No matter the reason – volunteering is the ultimate “win-win” – so get out there and start helping yourself by helping others!