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Will You Volunteer to Be Happy Today?

You may remember a blog item I wrote a month ago about one's sense of purpose being tied naturally to his or her health. This study found that people who led active lives functioned much better physically too.

A British study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) confirmed the findings in that earlier study, but in a different way: Helping others raises the quality of your life.

In fact, people who live in areas that record high levels of informal voluntary activity in their neighborhood, also enjoy better health, students achieve higher grades and their communities suffer fewer burglaries.

Volunteering has a positive influence, irrespective of a community's social class or wealth. One researcher found a relatively poor community with lots of voluntary activity can do better in relation to health, crime and education than a relatively affluent community which lacks such activity.

The research also tested for links between voluntary activity and overall life satisfaction or happiness. Again, there is a strong link between communities with lots of volunteering and those where people are very satisfied with their lives.

EurekAlert September 20, 2004

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