Positive Psychology, Happiness and Volunteering

Positive Psychology, Happiness and Volunteering

NEW YORK, April 29, 2009/ Troy Media/ — Employers like to hire candidates who have volunteering experience. In fact, many companies encourage their employees to volunteer a few hours a week; others run their own volunteer programs.

But the importance of volunteering for a worthwhile cause transcends a paycheck and career advancement. The true payoff is the heartfelt satisfaction that comes from improving other people’s lives — and often, the privilege of saving them as well. Volunteering is one of those rare and unique activities that can affect every aspect of your life – your career, relationships, personal philosophy — and transcends all racial, ethnic and educational barriers.

In the late 1990s, Martin Seligman, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and a respected proponent of positive psychology, said that scientists should study what was going right with people’s lives rather than concentrating on what was going wrong. Seligman said that the “highest level of sustained happiness comes when people can give a wider meaning to their lives. Helping others through politics, voluntary work or religion can help people to realize that there is something bigger and more important than them.”

Several studies have found that regular volunteer work increases life expectancy, and is also good for your immune system and your nervous system. Just as proper diet and exercise promote good health, there is evidence that a healthy lifestyle should include a dose of volunteering.

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