Lately, people are turning to volunteer work: and not just out of pure altruism, but because they get so much more in return. It’s no longer just about ticking off a box on your skills list, we as a society are realising that making a difference and addressing key issues in society through support and volunteer work is what creates a stronger community where we can all thrive and grow.
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 around you: namely, by helping others through volunteer work. Even as strangers, we can be connected by a simple act of kindness in the form of volunteering. Here are five reasons why everybody who has the opportunity should try volunteering.
- 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.
- It helps you step to expand your horizon
You go to work and see the same colleagues; at the weekend or during the holidays you hang around with the same friends and family. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 feeling of connection in a time that is becoming more and more individualistic.
As COVID-19 continues to limit the ways in which we can physically help others, think about donating your efforts or time virtually. Explore hundreds of online volunteer opportunities in areas like health and medicine, education, and community building that you can do from a computer. Transcribe, create, file, read, speak, listen and support; whatever your skills – it only takes an internet connection for you to make a difference. Check out for example, for all the ways you can help out the UN no matter where in the world you are.
We hope this article has inspired you to start volunteering. At Rituals we admire and support the Tiny Miracles Foundation that Laurien Meuter started as a small initiative but has grown into a true social enterprise. Such a great example for all of us, how a small and sincere intention can flourish into something truly wonderful. They create job opportunities for more than one hundred Indian women in the slums of Mumbai and this helps these women and their families become more self-sufficient.