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8 Reasons To Start To Do Voluntary Work Now

8 Reasons To Start To Do Voluntary Work Now

I volunteered for a local organization for two years, doing art projects with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I went to the organization’s learning center once a week, which gave me time to still work full-time as a graphic designer. Over time, I realized that I loved my volunteer work more than my paid work, and took a year to be an employee of the organization. During this time, I actually worked as the volunteer coordinator! I had such a passion for the organization as well as volunteering that the job was a perfect fit. Since then, I’ve met so many people – potential volunteers, lifelong volunteers, and other coordinators – who share this passion. And now I’d like to share some of the benefits of voluntary work, in hopes you’ll seek out organizations in your community that can benefit from your care and passion.

1. You get to network and socialize with others.

When you volunteer at organizations in your community, you meet a lot of people you might not otherwise get to know. For example, I’ve always worked as a graphic designer, so I knew a certain type of people. Yet when I volunteered, not only did I meet a variety of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, I also met employees and volunteers from other walks of life. If I had stayed cocooned in my 9 to 5 life, I never would have met these people! Now they’re some of my closest friends, and they’ve helped me expand my social life, as well as led to many important professional contacts. Getting outside of your usual circle really helps expand your life.

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2. There are great career benefits.

I got a great career benefit from volunteering, which was getting hired by the organization I volunteered for! This is actually very common, and other volunteers were hired during the time I worked there. It was because employees got to see how good the volunteers were when they worked for free, and knew they would be hard-working employees. Even if you don’t want to work at the organizations you volunteer for, there are still great benefits to volunteer work in general. You can list volunteer work on your resume just like it was a job – include how long you were there, what duties you did, and what you got out of it. Any employer would be happy to see that you’re the type of giving person who will work just for the good of it, and that will give you talking points in job interviews.

3. You gain experience.

Voluntary work will give you a variety of experience, whether you’re doing something you’ve never done before, or even if you’re using your everyday skills for a new purpose. Never be afraid to ask questions or ask for help when you’re a volunteer. Make sure you understand what you’re expected to do so you can get the most out of it, as well as help the most you can. Then you’ll have experience that you can use the more you volunteer at the organization, or take it with you when you volunteer elsewhere, or even take it back to your regular job.

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4. You find an outlet for your passion.

When I was a volunteer, I helped out with a weekly art class. I love art, even though I’m not especially artistic. This was a great way for me to find an outlet for my passion. I’m not good enough to become a famous painter or anything on my own, but since I loved it, that passion came through when I worked with the adults with disabilities, and that was enough for them. They didn’t expect anything from me except care and enthusiasm, so it was the perfect outlet for me! What passions do you have that you can share with others? You don’t have to be incredibly talented, as long as you have the desire to help others and share your drive. Think about what you love and who might benefit from your passions, and you’ll easily be able to make a list of organizations that would love to have you as a volunteer.

5. You improve your vision.

Volunteering in a new field helps you improve your vision. Voluntary work usually involves non-profits, which means you’re helping people less fortunate than you. Even the most charitable, caring people often get too wrapped up in their daily lives to think of those who have less than us. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, because it’s normal. But volunteering means you’re around people you wouldn’t usually be around, so you’re exposed to different walks of life. This helps you understand your own life and path that much more. You might find that you’re in the wrong field altogether, and change the direction of your life!

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6. You fulfill your potential.

Just like following your passion, voluntary work can help you fulfill your potential. Getting paid to do certain duties is one thing, but do you leave your job every day feeling like you’re tapped out, that you’ve done all you can do, and that you’ve helped others? It’s rare to feel that fulfilled from a paid position. Volunteer work helps you be more well-rounded, which means you can still work full-time at one position while doing something different for a local organization. Doing a variety of different things will help you feel like you’re using your full potential.

7. You get satisfaction.

Voluntary work is about helping others, but it’s ok to feel good about what you do. You should get satisfaction from helping others. Make sure you allow yourself to accept thanks and compliments from the organization you volunteer for, and let yourself feel proud of your hard work. You’re going above and beyond by helping out for nothing in return, so soak up that appreciation and pat yourself on the back!

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8. You help others.

It’s obvious, right? Volunteering is about helping others. But it’s a great reason to do voluntary work. It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind, getting swept away by small problems that seem important to you but don’t really matter in the scheme of things. But helping others out of the good in your heart is an amazing reason to do anything, and hopefully this reason alone will inspire you to go out and volunteer today!

Featured photo credit: BluEyedA73 via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 16, 2020

3 Simple Signs of a Strong and Healthy Relationship

3 Simple Signs of a Strong and Healthy Relationship

In helping many people solve their relationship woes, I am often asked for the signs of a good relationship.

Well, what’s fascinating about relationships is the dynamics of two individuals coming together and staying together amid an array of perceptions and misperceptions.

Our relationships are not only influenced by our current actions but also by our past relationships and the life experiences that we bring forward into the current relationship. How we deal with misperceptions and misunderstandings determines the strength and health of our relationship and the level of happiness we are able to experience.

Much of the subconscious programming that takes place throughout our life causes us to sabotage our happiness by preventing us from engaging effectively, especially when we become emotionally triggered.

These mostly unconscious “scripts,” which we tend to run on autopilot, include our thoughts, words, and actions that result from these. Some may even refer to them as “baggage.” While we can rewrite these scripts and stop them from contaminating our relationships, we only become aware of them when we are in an emotionally empowered state.

So, what are the signs of a good relationship?

It boils down to these four essential requirements:

  • Emotional empowerment
  • Aligned attraction
  • Sexual functioning
  • You and your partner

While we can take it upon ourselves to develop as an individual, a strong and healthy relationship results from both personal growth and teamwork with our partner in order to resolve any problems.

Let’s take a look at how we can do this.

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1. Emotional Empowerment

A clear sign of a good relationship is that both partners stay focused on what they want to create and how they want to feel. It can be too easy to blame our partner when we’re not feeling good about ourselves or somewhat overwhelmed with the curveballs that life seems to throw at us continually.

You may have heard of the saying, “Making mountains out of molehills.” When we’re not in charge of our emotional state, that’s precisely what we do!

Someone also said, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” Our words and the emotional power behind them are either being constructive or destructive in our relationships.

By trying to override your emotions and dredging up past situations, you may blow a current situation entirely out of context, keep retriggering yourself and your partner, and prevent essential issues from being resolved. Aside from that, it makes you feel disconnected.

As a reminder, allowing yourself to indulge in petty annoyances and sarcastic comments will likely drive a wedge between you and your partner. So, is that worth your attention?

When we focus on what we don’t want, we continually default to the old subconscious programming cultivated from our life experiences. These “scripts” can become self-destructive when expressed through negative rumination and self-talk or critical observations of our partner, rather than being the fun, uplifting, and naturally motivating partner that they fell in love with.

Many couples start competing against each other when they are emotionally triggered instead of supporting each other to create the best outcome. While we can quickly become obsessed with being right (or not being wrong), it’s essential to stay present, focus on how we want to feel, and align our words and actions toward that outcome.

Couples who enjoy a strong and healthy relationship consciously monitor their emotional states and can therefore influence the impact of their verbal and non-verbal communication in a positive manner. This offers a long-term benefit of enhancing their overall desire to be together and connect on more intimate levels.[1]

2. Attraction in Alignment

Known as the love and bonding hormone, oxytocin doesn’t just play an important role in intimacy. In truth, it’s also vital for increasing trust and attraction between two people. Synthesized in the human brain when you trust someone, the oxytocin molecule also motivates reciprocation.

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We’re living in an age where an individual’s independence is ruling the day, and the social codes of chivalry have become sadly redundant. However, it’s never a good time to become complacent in how we interact with each other and in respecting the environment we share.

According to Paul Zak, a neuroscientist and researcher at Claremont Graduate University, oxytocin is generated in the brain only after some concrete event or action, such as someone making way for you in the street.[2]

“When someone does something nice for you such as holding a door, your brain releases oxytocin, and it down-regulates the appropriate fear you have of interacting with strangers.” — Paul Zak

Suddenly, you feel like the person in front of you is not a threat. Then, according to Zak, this feeling disappears quickly for a good reason,

“If you just had high levels of oxytocin, you would be giving away resources to every stranger on the street. So, this is a quick on/off system.”

This has important implications for those in a relationship. Zak says:

“If you treat me well, in most cases my brain will synthesize oxytocin and this will motivate me to treat you well in return.”

In a relationship, our actions and behaviors are either attracting or repelling our partner. This is especially true when we have conflicting values. Common conflicting values include personal hygiene, health and fitness, and general tidiness.

It’s important to know and respect what’s important to our partner. After all, one of the real signs of a good relationship is having the desire to continually step up and live your “A” game.[3] When our partner takes the time to communicate something important to them, we need to acknowledge that it’s essential to keep a relationship long-term.

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While we like to think that our partner will be attracted to us no matter what, this is not realistic at all. “A” is for attraction, and we need to keep attracting our partner instead of being lazy and pretending we can get away with unappealing or inappropriate behaviors.

Any unresolved issue can build up resentment and undermine the quality of a relationship. However, the thought of approaching a challenging topic can increase stress and anxiety to the point where it is nearly impossible to clearly communicate the problem without it sounding like an accusation or blame.

Due to the fear of retriggering our partner by bringing up the same topic repeatedly, we often delay dealing with the issues that are of utmost importance to us. Over time, it can result in frustration, annoyance, and disconnection. We are sentient beings, so this type of emotional resistance can often be felt by the other person.

Furthermore, we usually communicate a part of a request out loud and then complete the reasoning behind it internally. Unfortunately, our partner doesn’t hear this internal monologue, so they have no idea about the extent or importance of our need. Therefore, many problems aren’t fully discussed, and the main issue remains unresolved.

“Prolonged stress and anxiety are like poison to oxytocin,” Paul Zak said. The underlying biological hypothesis is that stress — particularly the type that does not have a clear ending point — inhibits oxytocin release.

In a healthy relationship, both partners can retain the desire to step up and continue to attract each other through verbal and non-verbal communication. Try remembering the following:

  • Every person has their own preference for how things are done, so effective communication requires actively listening as well as clearly communicating your needs.
  • Before talking about an important matter, make sure you have your partner’s full attention. Then, try to keep your words focused in the here and now.
  • Instead of rehashing a similar experience from your past for context and risking triggering each other emotionally, get to the point and explain what you want at once. If you feel uncomfortable doing that, try starting a request with “I like it when…” or “It makes me feel…” You may also ask, “How can we work together to create a win-win situation?”
  • If something is important enough for your partner to mention out loud, then you must respect, consider, and adhere to it whenever possible. For example, if a partner is brave enough to open up about their need for sexual intimacy to feel more connected, it may be an issue that needs to be addressed in your relationship.

According to psychiatrist and Emory University professor Larry Young, increased intimacy can strengthen your connection as a couple, especially when you combine it with other rewarding experiences that get your brain’s reward system going.[4]

Verbally appreciate your partner’s effort in supporting your needs and make sure to retain your individuality and interests outside the relationship to keep your mutual attraction.

3. Sexual Function

Sex is the one thing that differentiates a strong, healthy relationship from a platonic friendship. Sexual intimacy is one of the most important signs of a good relationship and has often been described as the glue that holds a relationship together.

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Sexual intimacy allows two people who seek the ultimate connection with each other to come together. However, intimacy problems can lead to separation, loneliness, and disconnection — feelings that can eventually tear a relationship apart.

Unfulfilling sex leads to an increase in stress hormones which results in a lowered libido as sexual intimacy becomes a souce of discomfort on all levels. A common cause of a low libido is, for example, sexual function issues such as early ejaculation and erectile dysfunction challenges in men; and orgasmic dysfunction for women.[5] An unwanted sexual technique such as hard and fast or constant changes of position can also be off-putting.

While work stress, children rearing, and communication issues can all lower your libido and affect your overall desire for sex, a sexless marriage or relationship is not favorable for the vast majority of couples long-term.

One of the most important things for women in a relationship is to experience a sense of connection or feel loved and close to their partner. But this is where things can become tricky pretty quickly, considering women naturally have much higher levels of the bonding hormone oxytocin than men. For men, higher levels of oxytocin are generated through intimate connections.

What is the takeaway here, you may ask? Our hormones influence our behaviors, and oxytocin is said to be responsible for allowing us to experience love. In reality, studies have also shown that oxytocin can even work as the brain’s “moral molecule.” The more intimate moments we have, the more our bodies release the said hormone.

This is especially important for a male to feel more connected and attentive toward his partner. Research indicates that a man who is often sexually intimate with his beloved can produce increased levels of oxytocin.[6] In turn, it boosts his desire to hold and connect with his partner and stimulate positive social interaction.

A positive sign of a strong and healthy relationship is both partners’ desire to be intimate with each other. If either of the partners has little or no desire for initiating intimacy, then they need to address the issues mentioned in this article to restore intimacy in order to enjoy a truly fulfilling partnership.

Final Thoughts

The most important sign of being in a strong and healthy relationship is that you feel happy within yourself and in your connections.

While it’s not always possible to stay happy and connected with someone, ensuring that you are emotionally aligned with yourself and aware of your partner’s needs will go a long way to guarantee the health and longevity of your relationship.

After all, compelling narratives also cause oxytocin release and can affect your attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

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Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

Reference

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