8 Reasons Why Getting Involved in Your Community Can Make You Happier (and How to Start)

community

Ever have one of those days where you’re sitting at home, binge-watching Netflix, having a weekend marathon of gaming, or maybe you saw a thought-provoking PSA, and think, “I need to get more involved”? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t, but getting more involved in your community is more beneficial than you think.

Think back to the last time you volunteered (if ever). It was probably middle school or high school. It was most likely mandatory, and your mom probably nagged you about going. The chances are that you probably felt little accomplishment or joy because you had no say in the matter or you just didn’t get the point. You were a young dude, after all.

Here some reasons why you should start thinking about lending a helping hand in your community and commit to volunteering:

1. Getting To Know People in Your Community

If you’re like most busy guys, you probably don’t know very many people in your community, let alone your neighborhood or even apartment building. Living in a big city can often feel like “every man for himself,” but there’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel more connected, too.

Does it matter if you know a few people or hundreds? That’s up to you, but when you can make connections in your community, regardless of the size, you are strengthening your relationships with people who can help you out at some point. Think of volunteering as a great opportunity for networking.

2. Add a Little Variety to Your Life

Does your life sometimes feel like the Bill Murray classic, “Groundhog Day”? You go to work, have lunch at the same deli, come home, order takeout, watch a few episodes of something on Netflix, have a drink at the pub down the street, call it a night, and repeat the next day.

Even some of the best things in life can get a bit monotonous and lose special significance after awhile. When you start volunteering, even a few hours a month can add a little variety to your somewhat predictable day to day.

3. Think Beyond Yourself and Your Needs

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you’re a Millennial, and as a Millennial, you know that there are many not-so-great things said about your generation. One of the somewhat unfair descriptions is that Millennials are perceived as selfish and feel entitled.

4. Sense of Accomplishment

You know that great feeling you get when you’ve put together a piece of furniture in record time or helped the girl down the hall hook up her wi-fi? Maybe you walked away feeling a little taller and let’s face it, a little cooler. Volunteering can help you feel accomplished, too.

5. Boost Your Resume

Whether you’re in college and scoping out the perfect job or want to make your resume more impressive, volunteering can increase your chances of getting an interview or landing a job. While it’s kind of a jerk move to only volunteer in hopes of cushioning your resume, it will help you look like a more eligible candidate?

Employers are looking for people who are committed, reliable, and have “strong character,” volunteers typically have these characteristics. Rather than volunteering once a year, on the holidays, for example, make time to lend a helping hand throughout the year; it comes across as more genuine.

6. Make Friends or a Love Interest

As we get older, it can be difficult to make new friends. If you’re still hanging out with the same guys from high school and college that’s cool, but are you still doing the same stuff you did during those early years? While some friends are golden, it never hurts to make a few new ones.

Making new friends can be beneficial for personal and professional networking as well as allowing you to grow as a person. Volunteering is a great opportunity to make friends, and if you’re lucky, you may even meet a love interest. A guy that’s willing to spend his free time helping others (for free) ranks right up there on the list of “date worthy traits.”

7. Fun Way to Do What You Love

Depending on how you spend your time volunteering, it’s a fun way to do what you love with the bonus of doing some good. Do you love dogs, but can’t have one in your condo? Volunteering at your local animal shelter is a meaningful way of doing what you love and helping out in your community.

Wanted to be an educator but your dad pushed you to go into urban planning? There are many opportunities to help out kids in need, such as becoming a tutor or a mentor.

8. You’ll Be Happier

We all know the saying that “money can’t buy happiness,” and while it’s debatable, it’s also true most of the time. Sure, that new VR headset or a new season of your favorite show will make you happy, it’s only temporary.

Volunteering can make you happier, and as a result, you may need fewer material things to bring the same sense of satisfaction. Even if you consider yourself to be the Scroogiest of Scrooges, we dare you to not feel a little bit of joy after helping others.

Steps for Getting Started

Is your interest peaked, but don’t know where to start? Choosing to be a volunteer can be a little intimidating, but it will be worth the trip getting there. Here are some steps to get your started:

1. Start small

Whether you live in a suburb or the heart of a big city, your community most likely has a website. Go to the website to see if they have a community events calendar; many opportunities may be available there.

2. Check out a community calendar

Whether you live in a suburb or the heart of a big city, your community most likely has a website. Go to the website to see if they have a community events calendar; many opportunities may be available there.

3. Download volunteering apps

Another easy way to find volunteering is to download an app like Golden or Involver. These apps are designed to match you up with volunteering opportunities in your community based on your interests. Many volunteering apps also keep track of your volunteering hours and other relevant information.

4. Get involved at work

More businesses, big and small, are helping their employees have a chance to volunteer in the community, through work. Either sign up for a volunteering opportunity or if you really want to make a good impression, suggest some volunteering opportunities to your boss.

5. Utilize social media for good

Most of us spend too much time on social media and it can definitely be a time suck, but why not use it for good? Start looking for groups in your area who are looking for volunteers or join a local group of volunteers.

No Facebook group in your area? Take some initiative and start your own. Not only is it an easy way to network, but it’s a cool way to connect with people who share some of your same interests.

6. Place an online ad

Do you know how you want to spend your time volunteering, but are having a hard time finding an opportunity? Why not place an online ad? While many ads on Craigslist are hit and miss (and a little creepy), you can publish a simple post stating how you want to help in the community.

7. Contact the organization

Many organizations don’t have the time or the resources to do outreach for volunteers. If you have a place in mind, but don’t know if they need help, just ask. Better yet, go to the place, such as a food kitchen or senior center, and ask if you can help; they will probably hand you an apron and welcome you with open arms.

If they aren’t accepting volunteers at the moment, give them your contact information and make sure they know you’re interested whenever they have a free spot open.

8. Try out different things

If you’ve tried out a few things and aren’t sold on the whole volunteering thing, keep getting involved; don’t be a quitter. Eventually, you will find something that you get excited about and want to keep doing week after week. Don’t view your “not-so-great” experiences as fails, but rather as learning experiences. If you’re lucky, you had the chance to learn a few new skills and get to see how it is to live in someone else’s shoes.

About the author Patrick Banks

Patrick Banks is an entrepreneur, full-time dating advisor, and total health & fitness freak. He provides tips on how to exercise and eat well, boost energy and feel confident in your own skin. He believes a healthy body and successful social interactions are two main keys to happiness.