Do good, feel good: Find happiness through volunteering

December 4, 2018

A powerful person does not need strength and muscle or money and wealth, a powerful person gives, no matter how extravagant or minimalistic their lifestyle encompasses. A powerful person displays character, kindness and the mentality that they will create endless possibilities in life. Anne Frank documented the way to an equal and happy life in her diary entry “Give!” written March 26, 1944. She existed as a powerful person, in both the way she wrote and in her mentality of possibilities in an impossible situation. She believed that the world contains enough room, riches, money, and beauty— and that people should start dividing those essentials equally through kindness and desire.

“Give and you shall receive, much more that you ever thought possible. Give and give again. Keep hoping, keep trying, keep giving! People who give will never be poor,” Anne Frank wrote.

Volunteering, one of the countless ways to give and spread kindness, can also benefit the volunteer spiritually, emotionally, and physically. The connections become frequent and meaningful, the lessons become relevant and thoughtful, and the volunteer becomes more aware of their environment and themselves.

Madeline Powers

“Volunteering helps a person spiritually, emotionally, and physically by encouraging them to form connections with the environment around them. Connections with other people can aid a person in emotional and spiritual healing,” junior Ana Barahona said.

Not only does it help heal, but it also helps a person become more in touch with themselves and their self-consciousness. Known volunteers report the overall “good” feeling they receive from helping the community.

“[Volunteering] helps the community and makes me feel good about myself, and it makes me feel like I’m doing something for society,” sophomore Jackson Kutsche said.

Madeline Powers
In psychology, the feel-good-do-good phenomenon relates to spreading happiness by helping or complimenting others. If a person makes someone else feel good in any way, shape, or form, he will then feel useful and needed, a feeling most people long for.

When someone starts to volunteer, friends and family usually notice a subtle shift in happiness or in the way that person treats others around them. Most people can even see that shift in themselves, feeling more connected to the people and the world around them and becoming less absorbed in the stresses of daily life. When they learn a certain aspect about the world, the importance of that something increases dramatically when they see it first hand. Someone seeing the simple, yet beautiful smile of a child receiving a home cooked meal for the first time in a year, creates a sense of joy that nothing else can bring.

“One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned was through volunteering. While I was visiting [my] family in Honduras, I had the opportunity to volunteer at my grandparents’ church by giving meals to less fortunate children. That experience helped me comprehend [the fact] that material things truly do not have the importance we give them; what matters the most is having healthy and genuine relationships with the ones around you,” Barahona said.

Connections exist everywhere, in our brains, in the hardwire of our computers, and in the world, and nothing helps a person more with stress, anger, or anxiety than a meaningful connection with another person. These connections create a specific fluidity and open mindedness in the world of volunteering that allows a person to see a different perspective or viewpoint that they may never see otherwise.

“I have met people that stay joyful despite their circumstances, people that give so much to help others and see God in it all, people that form communities to support each other. They have not only made me stronger in my faith but opened my eyes to a gift I have that God has lead me to utilize in my life,” junior Averi Childress said.

The brief, yet impactful, changes one learns and adapts from when they start to volunteer shape the most brilliant minds, and the kindest hearts, much like Anne Frank, Averi Childress, and Ana Barahona. This change in someone’s eyes— in someone’s vision— creates a passion and a sense of purpose that the populace does not carry. It makes a person stand out.

“[Volunteering] has made me put real thought into what I want to do with my life and how I want to live everyday. I never, ever, want to assume things about someone or look down on them because they are exactly how God made them. They are a masterpiece in his eyes, and I hope to see them that way too. Sometimes, people just need help, and that’s what I can give,” Childress said.

A volunteer learns how to share kindness and show respect to everyone and everything.

A volunteer knows how to give anything for a smile.

A volunteer creates the message.

A volunteer makes the change.

Volunteers throughout history display courage, bravery, and the willingness to put their life up for something that they believe in, like Mother Teresa, the founder of the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation devoted to helping those in great need, or the Chinese man who stood in front of a tank. Volunteerism helped shaped innumerable aspects of history, from Ernest Hemingway risking his life to transport injured soldiers to safety, to the amount of people in Tennessee who so eagerly signed up to fight for their country in the war of 1812.

Gandhi faced British colonizers with stirring speeches and non-violent protest; Martin Luther King Jr. following in this precedent believed that his life did not hold as much value as those who would come after him. Both self-aware men displayed the characteristics of powerful people, each shaping the world through volunteerism.

The infinite opportunities in our world to help and to care ranges from the beginnings of a civil movement to simply complimenting or helping someone in day-to-day life. Nearby organizations that one could volunteer at include Must Ministries, a foundation that relies on neighbors helping neighbors, Mostly Mutts, an animal rescue devoted to giving dogs and cats a safe and happy home, as well as any senior center in the area. Most organizations like these require an application process that includes only your basic credentials or your credentials and an essay describing why you want to volunteer with them. It may seem exhausting at first, but once one sees the effect he can make on someone else’s life, that joy becomes like a the drug; it becomes addicting to help the needy. Mission trips, charity events, giving someone a compliment, tutoring a classmate, paying it forward, or creating your own message and making that change helps the world more the one realizes.

Madeline Powers

Ask not what your community can do for you; ask what you can do for your community. One of the most beloved presidents of the United States, John F. Kennedy, said a similar message in his inaugural address: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”It speaks words to how much the government changes and evolves and how much the people change with it, we lost our way in that sense gaining a blurred concept of individualism, but does individualism mean only caring of one’s self? Sure, everyone fills with excitement when receiving a present on their birthday or during Christmas, but does that feeling compare to when one sees their mom open the gift that they worked so hard to make or pick out? As great as their dad opening the signed Peyton Manning football that he tried to find for months on end? The most inspiring figures in history lived their lives according to the concept that one giving overrules one receiving, we should all aspire to do the same.

Anne Frank, although not the first person that comes to mind when one thinks of volunteering, she definitely sparks a sense of goodness that one should or at least aim to encounter.

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