Today, we celebrate one of the greatest men in recent history. Martin Luther King represents our country’s collective and continued movement for social justice. His work, and words, live today in communities across the globe.
Dr. King onced asked: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” In this spirit, MLK day was declared a National Day of Service in 1994. This day makes a big impact. According to the Corporation for National and Community service, MLK day 2014 saw volunteers impact over 571,000 lives through training, mentoring, emergency food, and disaster preparedness.
How Does this Help me Find Happiness?
Celebrating MLK isn’t the only reason that serving your community should be on your to-do list. Mark Twain couldn’t have said it any better:“The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer somebody else up.”
Studies have shown that helping others boosts happiness. And according to HelpGuide, community service is a great contributor to building social ties by meeting new friends, experiencing new social interactions (that develops social skills), and growing your network.
In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about the value of serving your community as a part of being effective. He categorizes the action of service within his seventh habit: “Sharpen the Saw.” Pointing out that “a long, healthy, and happy life is the result of making contributions.” 1
And serving others with a feeling of purpose has also been shown to contribute to longevity! Dan Buttner, in his book The Blue Zones, points out the power of feeling a sense of purpose and belonging. In fact, according to his site, “Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.”
Not only does helping others impact your community, but also helping others boosts your own happiness, longevity, and effectiveness.
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How do I get started?
Here are some resources to help get you started. You can find volunteer opportunities by using the following websites:
• Volunteer Match
• MLK Day.
• The Corporation for National and Community Service
• United We Serve
• MLK Day of Service
How has your participation in community service affected you?
Let us know by commenting below.
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- Covey, Stephen. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Free Press, 2004.(p. 299) ↩