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The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is. ~ C. S. Lewis

Since our time is indeed ticking away at the steady pace of 60 minutes per hour what, if anything, can we do to change that? I’m going back to a favorite topic and show you the new research that points to its value in slowing down the clock for us individually – as in giving us more physical time to be around. More time to enjoy the kids and grandkids, to see more of your friends and to take in just plain old more of the good stuff life has to offer. What does this for us? Volunteering!

According to Mark Snyder from Center for the Study of the Individual and Society at the University of Minnesota, the idea that we, as a society, even think about volunteering, giving back to others, is somewhat odd. We aren’t, from an evolutionary point of view, wired to give back to others in this manner and yet we do. A lot. The US has the highest rate of volunteerism of any country; about 44% of Americans volunteer each year.

People who start volunteering for any reason report a greater sense of accomplishment and personal fulfillment than those who do not give back.

“People who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness… All of these things go up as their feelings of social connectedness goes up, which in reality, it does. It also improves their health and even their longevity.” ~ Mark Snyder, Money, 4/14/2012

According to Harvard Health Letter (November 2014) one only needs to volunteer 100 – 200 hours a year to get all the benefits of participating, which translates to about 2 hours a week on the low end. It is possible to get the health benefits by starting out rather modestly; writing a get well note to an ailing friend, helping a stranger in the grocery store, running an errand for a friend.

Interestingly, we tend to volunteer more when we’re younger and drop off from doing so as we get closer to 60 although research shows the biggest positive impact for us as we age. Retirement often means a loss or major changes to our social groups and volunteering can help replace work related social connections. In giving back, we also have a chance to re-define our contribution to the world at large, allowing us to develop a new sense of purpose. Do you want to be known as that person who put together killer presentations or the person who could be counted on to be there each week to read to children at risk?

If you have any interest in anything at all, there are organizations that would love to have you. I sincerely hope you find the time to get out there and discover what works for you.*

Wishing you a wonderful, fulfilling week!

~ Lisa

* Here is my one cautionary suggestion for you; not every activity is going to suit YOU. It might be great for your friend or the most highly regarded activity but if it doesn’t speak to you, allow you to feel that ‘yes’ feeling, then please, move on. Find something else. All that is important is what works for you.