Do Good / Feel Good: Why get involved?

Do Good / Feel Good: Why get involved?

“Doing a kindness produces the single most reliable increase in wellbeing [for the doer] of any exercise we’ve tested.” ~Dr. Martin Seligman (Director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center & Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology)

We, as mothers, as women, as human beings, have all been in the position at one point or another where we may have needed some form of assistance. It may not have been anything major, but regardless, the help was needed, and once received, it was greatly appreciated.  Not only to the individual receiving the help, but also to the individual who was providing the help. In fact, it is scientifically proven that helping others, doing good deeds, ‘produces the single most reliable increase in wellbeing [for the does] of any exercise,’ according to Dr. Martin Selignman (Director of the Penn Positive Psychology Center & Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology).

To think that you, the person doing the “good”, is able to increase your own health when you provide services to someone else, is surreal.  What a better way to gain something, than to gain it by doing something that helps someone else also gain something? Seriously?!

There is no shortage of people requiring assistance in the world.  It may not necessarily be someone who is poverty ridden, lives in a starving country across seas, or a town that has been destroyed by a natural disaster (although those are great causes to help with).  It very well could be right in your workplace, your neighborhood or your circle of close friends.

The single mother in your department who tries desperately to keep her home in order while working a full time job, and still meeting her children’s needs.  The family next store that is required to work, not two, but three jobs between both parents to ensure their bills are met and food is on the table.  The sweet little old lady, that has held on way past her expected years, and can no longer maintain the property, that she cannot seem to let go of. If we would take a moment, once, throughout our autopilot rate race routines, to take a good look around us, we would see it.  They are all around us and may not always ask for the help, but I am sure… no I bet… they would not argue if they received the help.  Would you?

That is what organizations like Moms of Carbon County (MOCC) was created for.  We are here to help, to empower, to build each other up and provide the support, and assistance that we may all need; but none of us are willing to ask for.  The needs of others is what drives us to continue to help others, which in return, actually helps ourselves.  It is a constant cycle of help, good health, mental support…and so much more.  Let’s face it, we are all moms, and most likely we are too proud to ask for help but we are also the first ones to jump to the rescue, when we can, sometimes, even when it isn’t within our means.

You know the situation; you need a new bra (preferably one that does not require a band aid on your upper rib cage to prevent the underwire from stabbing you in the side) but you buy that toy your 1st grader earned with good grades instead.  Or you slip a couple dollars in your friend’s purse when she is not looking because you know she is struggling more than you.  I know I have personally found myself giving $5.00 to someone who needed it when I only had $10.00.

We all have a side of us who wants to help others in one way or another, and a side of us that will sacrifice a sliver of breast comfort just so someone else feels rewarded.  This, along with the many other amazing benefits of volunteering, is why you should get more involved with the needs of those around you.  Some of the other amazing benefits, that all (us) mothers could surely use are:

Decreased stress – According to a 2013 study examining the relationship between volunteering and hypertension, giving back can have a significant impact on blood pressure. Researchers found that adults over 50 who volunteered about four hours a week were 40 percent less likely than non-volunteers to have developed hypertension four years later.  Additionally, being generous can have the same effect, according to a 2010 study, which found that the less money people gave away, the higher their cortisol levels.  Interesting!

Increased life expectancy – apparently researchers from the University of Buffalo found a link between giving, unselfishness and a lower risk of early death. The findings show that subjects who provided tangible assistance to friends or family members (running errands, helping with child care, etc.), reported less stressful events and, consequently, had reduced mortality. Ummm…. SIGN ME UP! I know I want to see my great-grandchildren one day.

Promoted mental health – Although most of us are mental, that is not what we are referring to here.  After an extensive review of 40 studies on the effect of volunteering on general health and happiness, the BMC Public Health journal has concluded that volunteering is also good for mental health. The review found that – along with improved well-being and life satisfaction – volunteering is also linked to decreased depression. With all the forms of depression us moms are susceptible to, I would like to ensure I am eliminating as many possibilities as I can.

Increased Happiness – “People who engage in kind acts become happier over time.” It’s that simple, according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside.  Lyubomirsky, who has studied happiness for over 20 years, found that performing positive acts once a week led to the most happiness.  In addition, Researcher Stephen Post of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found that when we give of ourselves, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization and physical health is significantly improved.  Now doesn’t that make you… happy?

With the way the world can be today, and the health risks we all face, it is a no brainer to me that volunteering is a necessity in our lives; along with healthy eating and fitness, but that is another story.   It is clear that being a part of something outside of ourselves is much more of a benefit then just a tax write off.  (Not to say that isn’t a bonus.)

Seriously… what are you waiting for?   Get involved with an organization, event, charity or cause that you are passionate about. There are so many to choose from: one that maybe fits your life style, hobbies or career!  Better yet, there is this fabulous new organization called Moms of Carbon County (MOCC) and I think it would meet all the criteria you are looking for!

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