The Healing Power of Service
By Tyler Goddard, LCSW
Albert Schweitzer is quoted as saying, "I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know. The only ones among you who will be truly happy will be those who have sought and found how to serve."
As we learn to be grateful for the gifts in our life, we have a natural desire to help others. Our service to others helps us keep things in perspective. Everyone has their own unique struggles. The act of helping someone else can help us forget, even if just temporarily, our own worries.
Of course, there are many other benefits of service such as increased social connections, improved interpersonal skills, and greater emotional and physical health. The 2000 National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating (NSGVP) identified the following benefits of service and volunteerism. Seventy-nine percent of volunteers surveyed said that their volunteer activities helped them with their interpersonal skills, such as understanding people better, motivating others, and dealing with difficult situations. Just over two thirds (68%) said that volunteering helped them to develop better communication skills. The survey also found that most volunteers reported an increase in their job-related skills and many unemployed volunteers actually obtained employment as a direct result of their volunteer work.
Another study by the National Centre for Volunteering in 2003 surveyed over 100 people with mental health issues and found the following:
“Respondents said that their mental health difficulties had had a variety of negative effects on their lives, including unemployment, a lack of confidence and motivation, an inability to concentrate, difficulties in trusting people, an inability to make or sustain friendships, and feelings of isolation, frustration and anxiety.”
If this describes you, you will be happy to know that “Respondents also agreed that volunteering had done much to improve their mental health. Specifically, it had given structure, direction and meaning to their life, widened their social networks, improved their vocational and interpersonal skills and helped them to gain access to employment, education and training.”
In an article entitled, “The healing power of service” chiropractor, Edward V. Brown outlines the research supporting the connection between the mind and body and how physical and mental health are connected. He then goes on to discuss the positive effects of volunteer service as he states:
“The power of the mind to influence the body is beyond question; a negative mental attitude can threaten one’s health, and a positive mental attitude will trigger changes within the body that promote health and healing. Thus, while research shows that social isolation is a major health risk factor, it also shows that people who do volunteer work are much less likely to suffer illness. The close interpersonal relationships and community involvement that occur with volunteer service are tailor-made to enhance the healing process.”
So what are you sitting around reading this article for? Get out and find someone to serve!
Tyler Goddard, LCSW has over 15 years of experience helping people ditch emotional baggage and achieve their goals. He is a licensed mental health therapist working for the Utah Department of Workforce Services and maintains a private counseling and coaching business, Goddard Consulting. For more information contact Mr. Goddard at 435-225-2422 or .