It’s no secret that we find comfort using our electronic devices; however, these devices only contribute to a small percentage of our mental wellbeing. The larger percentage comes from emotional support from those around us; without this support, humans would be morbid bodies not much better than chickens without heads. When we receive incredible news, we tell the people important to us. When we receive terrible news, we reach out to those around us for support. Giving back is the essence of supporting those around you because human living is based on giving.

Whether you want to help others (A key principle in Hawai’i called “Aloha ʻĀina”) or you want to fulfill your basic human needs, here are 6 key human benefits of giving back to the community.

  1. Improves Mental Health: Research has shown that volunteering releases natural endorphins, decreasing depression and stress while increasing happiness in both the long and short-term.
  2. Improves Physical Health: With mental health benefits, comes physical health benefits. Giving back has been researched to increase an area in your brain that functions as a reward system, which decreases your risk of heart disease and your mortality rate. This is an addition to the physical excercise you receive while volunteering with others.
  3. Expands Your Network: Surrounding yourself with good, motivated people is the key to success. As you work with others, you are sure to meet other like-minded individuals with the same aspirations as you. Networking with individuals will build long-lasting relationships and down the road, these relationships will benefit you.
  4. Develops New Skills: Giving back is always an opportunity to grow and learn new skills. Whether it be soft skills such as public speaking or networking, no matter the project, volunteering will grow your skillset.
  5. Transforms Your Perspective: Giving back to the community will always develop your personality and perspective. Adopting gratitude always comes with volunteer work. Helping others who were in the same position as you will help you remember the number of individuals who helped you to success. Expressing gratitude has it’s own mental and physical benefits and this perspective will take you far in life.
  6. Fullfills Your Deepest Human Needs: As human beings, we all feel the need to give back. Volunteering gives us a sense of contribution, uniqueness, and significance that makes us feel needed and helpful. It ties into the key human emotion of empathy. Empathy opens up our hearts and minds, releasing all sorts of chemicals in our brains and shaping us into healthier, more fulfilled human beings.
  7. Creates Leaders: A lot of volunteer work revolves around leadership. And while volunteering, we inadvertidly lead others. Leadership isn’t always about being the boss of those around you, it’s about adapting and mobilizing others to do productive work. As you give back to your community, you will be mobilizing others to accomplish certain tasks.

You shouldn’t feel the need to carry the world’s water on your back; however, making a small change will help your community and fulfill your needs as well. As you volunteer, you will increase your mental and physical health, network with others, develop skills and gratitude, and learn adaptive leadership as you mobilize others. If you’re looking to fulfill these human needs, search for opportunities within your community to help others. Volunteer at schools, non-profits, and see where each opportunity takes you!