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Without a doubt, one thing you can do today to make your own life better is to make the lives of others better. Volunteering is amongst the most uplifting experiences I’ve ever had, and as a result, it’s something I keep going back to.

Most people envision soup kitchens when they think of volunteering. While feeding hungry people is an important task, there are many other angles to pitching in with the good old world. Volunteer posts can vary from technological Support (building websites and social media, especially) to planting a garden to reading a book for someone to walking a dog. Lots of little things make a difference for lots of people (and animals).

Labors of Love

Few things resonate more than helping others. For whatever reason, when we take money out of the equation, when we can see the true impact our labors might have and whom they might benefit, the work tends to be not just tolerable but enjoyable. The work becomes an expression of ourselves.

Have you ever made something for someone? Not just gone out and bought it, but baked a cake or crocheted a scarf or built a garden. Then, you know the difference. Actually doing something that makes someone smile, that makes a dog’s wag its tail, that inspires a whale to breach, or that makes the world greener just feels right. In fact, it feels so right that people have been led to wonder: can volunteering help you live longer?

Where to Begin

Most of us want to help. Most of us see a world of problems, we see the solutions and people trying to reach them and, in some fashion, we’d love to be part of it. The world isn’t quite the callous place we often make it out to be. Not when you start looking closely. There are people on every continent, in every country, city and suburb working — often free of charge — to make the world a better place. We just have to find them and join them.

Well, to be blunt, if we can meet here on this webpage today, then we all surely have the wherewithal to search our way into volunteer posts for tomorrow. Whether you live in Palm Springs or the south side of Chicago, someone near you needs a hand, and someone is already lending it. Like anything, starting to volunteer requires a scary first step, but once you take it, a better world opens before you and for others.

Here are some OGP resources to make that step easier:

Where to Go

As for me, I’m a traveler, and I like to volunteer while on the go. I’ve volunteered on four different continents now and believe it may just be one of the most insightful ways to “experience another culture.”

There are many ways to get hooked up with great organizations (including my own website, The NGO List) doing phenomenal things across the globe. If you plan on traveling internationally, think about volunteering responsibly when you do so.

And, OGP has already provided several great articles on volunteering while on vacation, or vacationing to volunteer:

Do this one thing today. Do it tomorrow and the next, and you’ll not only make your life better, but possibly the lives of many others. Now, check out these links and get started.

Image source: Antonix Wayfarer/Wikimedia Commons