It’s not a universal phenomenon but not uncommon either. A person decides to volunteer for a charity, do good works or help others in some way — and then they feel bad about it.
More likely, however, they are made to feel bad about it by others.
A case in point is North Dakota man Ken Kenston who decided to take a year off from his job as a newspaper editor to join the federal VISTA Volunteer program. He was assigned to work on the problems of homelessness.
Kenston said the “blowback” was almost immediate from some members of his community. For example, people would say to him things like:
“Why are you helping those lazy bums on the street? You’re just making the problem worse. You are working to feed these lazy people and find them free shelter so they don’t have to work for themselves. You’re only increasing the homeless problem.”
That was just the beginning. Kenston said a member of his own family accused him of being “an egomaniac” with a “saint complex.”
“I’ll never forget it,” Kenston said. My brother said: “Oh, I suppose now you think you’re the next Gandhi because you’re feeding homeless people. Maybe you’re just feeding your own ego!”
The bottom line is that many people who choose to take on good works are going to get pushback from others who think they know so much better about how to solve the world’s problems.
However, it’s 100% correct and appropriate that you should feel good about what you are doing. Altruism can make you feel good because you can tell yourself that you are being a part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Studies show that volunteerism has helped many people come out of their own shells, make new friends and gain a sense of belonging to a whole new community.
Another major benefit many volunteers report is getting a new perspective on life. Helping those less fortunate than you can make you appreciate how good you have it and how lucky you are to be in a position where you can uplift others.
This can impart an increased feeling of optimism, happiness and a fundamental satisfaction with life itself.