In his final address as President of the United States, Barrack Obama, implored all Americans to "embrace the joyous task we have been given to continually try to improve this great nation ... if something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing." He makes a good point. Couldn't we all be a tad more generous with our time? After all, the Bureau of Labor Statistics just released the 2015 volunteering rates for the United States, showing a decline to 24.9%—the lowest rate since the survey was first administered in 2002.
Lending a helping hand to your community fosters all-important traits a man should possess, from self-efficacy to empathy. But when all is said and done, it comes down to this: do you want to see the world around you get better? And the causes you care about succeed? Then roll up your sleeves and make a difference. It's what stand-up guys do. And while there's plenty of good you'll be doing for others, there's a surprising amount of ways it makes you a better, smarter and healthier person as well. Here are just a few.
It's good for your career.
For starters, volunteering looks great on a resume. But more than that, donating time affords you the opportunity to gain some valuable knowledge and hands-on experience in a different field than your day job. It also provides an excellent avenue for networking. People who volunteer statistically make more money than those who don't and that's partially due to the relationships people form while volunteering. Such relationships, often with well-connected people, are important because they provide access to new information and opportunities that some who simply stay in one close social circle would miss out on.
You develop strong, meaningful relationships.
You've got your long-time buddies and friends you keep in touch with via social media. You've got your work wife and other acquaintances at the office. But despite all this interconnectivity, deep connections and strong relationships are more rare than ever these days. Working alongside a diverse group of people who are as passionate about supporting the same causes builds a unique camaraderie. And it lays the foundation for a profound and lasting connection.
Volunteering with a family member is a great way to find common ground between generations. And children who volunteer with their parents are much more likely to become adults who volunteer.
A sense of purpose can't be underestimated.
It's not entirely understood by the medical community why volunteering provides such profound health benefits. Experts report that focusing on something other than yourself interprets the usual tension-producing patterns. You discover hidden talents that often improve your self worth. But more evidence points to the power of making a difference. Donating your time—such a precious resource these days—gives you a sense of purpose. The very nature of volunteering is choosing to work without being compensated, so you'd only give your time to issues you care about. Which means you end up helping address something you feel needs works. You're making a difference. The result? A powerful feeling of accomplishment and control—in the healthiest of ways.