The Benefits of Volunteering
A surprising article appeared in the Journal of Gerontology a couple of years ago. A university of Michigan researcher studied people in faith communities – synagogues, churches, etc. There were two groups that were the same in terms of their ages and health. The only thing that divided them was whether they volunteered in their communities. Hundreds of participants were involved n the study. The conclusion was that people who gave of themselves – who volunteered – were medically healthier over the course of the ensuing years.
Are you surprised? I was. Maybe it should be obvious. Those who volunteer to help others are more connected. They have a sense of purpose. The study has actually been replicated in different forms and venues and has now become part of medical therapy. We’ve known for a long time that helping others is good morally. We now know that it is good medically as well. Stephen Post has written a book along these lines, telling of how and why good things happen to good people.
We are told in the Bible in a number of different places that we will be rewarded for doing well for others. We surely understand that if we do good acts only for the purpose of being rewarded, we will likely be disappointed. Goodness must be its own reward. But it is comforting to know that the Bible has met science here. In doing things for others, we serve our own interests as well.
If you have a comment or question about this blog entry, email Dr. Roffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Joel Roffman has spoken to many church, synagogue and support groups. His book, Coping with Adversity: Judaism’s response to illness and other life struggles is enjoyable, uplifting and informative. It is meant for people of all faiths and can be viewed at http://www.copingwithadversity.com/. It is available at Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Amazon.com.