It's not just nice: Here are 11 research-backed reasons to volunteer your time.

Helpfulness is supposed to be its own reward, which, while admirable, isn’t always a compelling case for incorporating it into your life.

Especially if you're busy balancing work, family, relationships, your own health, and all of the chaos that goes with those things, volunteering can fall into the category of things we should do but rarely find time for. That’s why it can be useful to look deeper into the other benefits of being helpful — because it turns out that doing for others actually does a lot for you, too.

Image via iStock.


Helpfulness doesn’t have to be an altruistic act.

It can also be a lifestyle change that affects your health, happiness, and overall quality of life in positive and surprising ways. And the benefits you get from helping out don't make it any less good for the world. Here are 11 surprising things about how helpfulness affects the helper.

1. Volunteering might help you live longer.

A 2013 review included a look at five studies that found that participants who volunteered compared with nonvolunteers were 22% more likely to have a lower risk of mortality.

2. People who give to others tend to be happier people.

Image via iStock.

According to "The Paradox of Generosity," Americans who describe themselves as "very happy" volunteer an average of 5.8 hours per month. Those who donate more than 10% of their incomes also exhibited lower depression rates than those who did not.

3. One reason to be helpful? Research shows that it could be in your nature.

Scientists have discovered that the hormones connected to feeling generous vary depending on your DNA.

4. Of course, if you’re born with unhelpful genes, that doesn’t mean you have to be stuck with them.

According to the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, compassion can actually be taught through meditation and practice. "It's kind of like weight training," researcher Helen Weng told the University of Wisconsin–Madison. "We found that people can actually build up their compassion 'muscle' and respond to others' suffering with care and a desire to help."

5. The happiness we feel after helping is caused by oxytocin released in our bodies.

Image via iStock.

That oxytocin triggers the release of another chemical, called nitric oxide, which reduces blood pressure.

6. Helping others could help reduce chronic pain.

Studies have shown that people with chronic pain reported feeling less discomfort after helping others with the same ailment.

7. Oxytocin also reduces levels of free radicals in our bodies, which contribute to aging and sometimes cancer.

So, in a way, helpfulness can actually slow aging!

8. Giving triggers more giving.

The New England Journal of Medicine documented a phenomenon that occurred when an anonymous donor gave a kidney. That single act triggered a chain of 10 kidney donations and transplants across five states from spouses and families of the kidney recipients.

Image via iStock.

9. Helpfulness increases productivity.

Adam Grant has become a leading researcher in organizational psychology based on his projects that show employees are exponentially more productive when they have direct interactions with the people who benefit from their work.

10. In teens and children, helpfulness can help develop more positive attitudes and behaviors.

Adolescents who volunteer tend to have improved grades and better self-image. So all of those school-mandated volunteer hours are definitely a good thing!

11. The benefits of helping others grow as you age.

Studies of older adults have found that retirees experience even greater benefits from their own volunteering than people who are employed.

There's no shame in incorporating helping into your life because it's healthy for you.

Volunteering, or simply being mindful about helping wherever you encounter a need, can be an important part of your own self-care routine that doesn't detract from all the good you're doing for the community. When people find ways to be helpers, everyone benefits.

More
True
SoCal Honda Dealers
Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

Most Shared
via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

Keep Reading Show less
Family