What do you need to live a good life?
First, you need a purpose. What do I mean by purpose? In some cases it means a job. Why? Because you need money. No, money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it can help get you some necessities (food, clothes, possibly a roof over your head). In others it might mean doing something you enjoy or something of importance. Housewives and househusbands who stay at home to raise children or take care of domestic affairs have a sense purpose even though there is no income attached to the occupation. People with purpose live good lives.
Second, you need friends. They can be family members, loved ones or people you randomly meet and connect with. Whoever they are, you need people to just be around and to lean on when the time comes. Isolation leads to depression. An added bonus of friendship is that it also feels good to be the person others can lean on. This brings me to my third and last point about the necessities of a good life.
In addition to friendship and purpose, in order to live a good life you need enjoyment. Drudging along from day to day doing activities you don’t like, being with people you don’t enjoy, is taxing. It wears on you mentally and physically. Pleasure and enjoyment are motivating. They “get you going.” The trick is to find the sorts of activities that will give lasting pleasure, rather than a quick fix.
How can volunteering help?
First, through volunteering, you try new things. Trying new things can lead to new ideas about what you like to do, what interests you, and what you might be good at. It can help you find where you belong. In addition, when you volunteer, you meet people. In meeting people you might even make valuable connections. Making connections can lead to new career paths. After all, word of mouth is the best form of marketing out there.
Second, when you volunteer you create new relationships. You meet people who at least share one interest you do—helping others. This can serve as a lasting basis for friendship.
Third, helping others makes you feel good. More importantly, it makes you feel good in a way that playing sports or going out with friends or buying yourself some new shoes or a nice dinner doesn’t even come close to. Sure these activities are enjoyable, but helping others is not just pleasurable, it’s fulfilling.