You have a stressful job working five days a week and when it’s finally weekend, you’re happy to do absolutely nothing. However, there are other and more useful ways to spend a part of your precious weekend or a weeknight. Lately, people are turning to volunteer work: and not just out of pure altruism, but because they get so much more in return.
More and more people are in search of meaning. You can find a yoga school around every corner, social media feeds are drowning in spiritual coaches and books about mindfulness are flying off the shelves. Many people look for meaning within themselves, but you can also find it by looking outside: namely, by helping others through volunteer work. Here are five reasons why everybody who has the opportunity should try volunteering.
1. It brings you lots of good karma
Karma comes from Hinduism and Buddhism and can be literally translated as “action,” “work,” or “deed.” When we talk about karma, we mean that living with intent and taking care of yourself and others will come back to you in the form of personal happiness. Nothing could be truer about the act of volunteering. You might not get a direct financial reward, but it does fill you with a good feeling when you do something for others or for the environment. You’ll also notice that the people around you appreciate what you’re doing, and you may even inspire them to perform their own good deeds. Like a snowball effect, good intentions spread throughout the universe and can set more positive things in motion than you ever thought possible.
A tree as big around as you can reach starts with a small seed; a thousand-mile journey starts with one step.
2. It helps you step out of your comfort zone
Every day you go to the office and see the same colleagues; in the weekend you hang around with the same friends and you celebrate every holiday with your family. Even in the gym, you’re surrounded by the same faces. Because of this, you’re always in the same social circle, hearing the same people’s stories, opinions and views of current events. You’re basically living in a bubble of your own making. Traveling is a great way to step outside of this bubble, but you can also do this closer to home by volunteering. You’ll meet people outside your normal circle, people who lead very different lives, and this can expand and enrich your world.
3. You develop a feeling of gratitude
Of course, it’s dependent on what kind of volunteer work you do, but in almost every case, you’ll be thankful for the fact that you have the opportunity to make a difference. It might expose you to the less pleasant aspects of society, but by doing this, it will make you grateful for your own life—for the small things that you might normally take for granted--and help you focus on the good things you experience each day.
4. You learn a lot from it
No matter what work you decide to do, one thing is certain: you’ll learn something from it. And that can be anything. It may be a new skill, or you may get to know an entirely new culture. Maybe it will teach you how it feels not to be free to do everything you want at any given moment, or how difficult it is to make ends meet and not be able to buy everything you want. Or you learn how to deal with things that you’d rather avoid. Illness, old age and death: sooner or later we’re all confronted with them, and by doing volunteer work, you can learn how to address these issues in a more positive way.
5. It has a positive effect on other aspects of your life
Thanks to all the aforementioned points, volunteering makes you a better person, and that has an effect on your everyday life. Doing something for another person without expecting something in return gives you purpose, which enhances your life in all kinds of ways. It can improve your self-esteem or your feeing of connection in a time that is becoming more and more individualistic.
We hope this article has inspired you to start volunteering, but if there’s no room for it in your busy life at this moment, luckily there are other ways to score some extra karma points. For example, Rituals supports the Tiny Miracles Foundation because the organisation fits very well with our philosophy. It was founded by Laurien Meuter and has grown into a true social enterprise. Together with Pepe Heykoop, former student at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, Holland, the foundation creates designs, one being the innovative Paper Vase cover which is assembled by hand in India. With this, they create job opportunities for more than one hundred Indian women in the slums of Mumbai and this helps them and their families become more self-sufficient.