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How will helping others help you?
Acts of love may benefit the giver even more than the receiver. Here's how. - photo by Susan Swann
Did you know volunteering to help others may actually help you more than those you serve?

A new study led by Dr. Suzanne Richards from the University of Exeter Medical School reviewed 40 studies from the last 20 years on the connection between volunteering and health. The study concludes "volunteering is associated with lower depression, increased well-being, and a 22% reduction in the later risk of dying."

Comforting others brings powerful benefits

Lower rates of depression, increased well-being and a lower risk of dying are powerful motivators for reaching out to others in need.

While helping ourselves is clearly not the right motive for helping those who are grieving, hungry, fearful or simply lonely, Richard's study does give a kind of modern credence to Jesus' admonition to comfort those who are struggling and down.

Helping others brings feelings of peace and reduced stress

Henry Eyring, philanthropist and author, advocates that we exercise our feelings of compassion and love toward others. He assures that as we serve others, we will find peace in our own lives.

In fact, a 2015 study on stress found that those who performed daily acts of kindness were less likely to feel stressed. On days when they didn't do anything to help anybody, they experienced both more stress and more negativity.

Small acts of kindness make our communities better

Small acts of kindness can range from helping a new family move into your neighborhood to taking a meal to a mom who just had a baby to simply holding the door open for someone whose arms are full.

Simple gestures of thoughtfulness can go a long way within our communities, making them better places for all of us to live.

Volunteering leads to reduced drug use and school dropout rates

In yet another article, by U.S. News and World Reports, titled "Why Helping Others Makes us Happy," the authors point to benefits for both teens and older adults who help others.

Jane Allyn, a retired University of Wisconsin sociologist, indicates that there is a positive effect on grades, self concept and attitudes toward education for teens who help others. Allyn also found volunteering led to reduced drug use, school dropout rates and even teen pregnancies.

The benefits from volunteering increase with age. Experts discovered that folks older than 60 may benefit more from volunteer work, not less, than their younger counterparts. Part of that benefit may be due to the increased social connection from engaging in volunteer activities.

As you can see, love never fails. Acts of love, as it turns out, benefit both the giver and the receiver.
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