Volunteering brings happiness, fairness and…success.

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Last week I visited Dibyabhumi College, a new learning institution blending social work with cutting edge issues like technology and social media. I was there at invitation of Friends of ENGAGE an informal group founded by Shrutkriti Shah a young professional who just came back from Australia.

I was there to make a presentation about ENGAGE and I normally hate power point. The previous week I was always with Friends of ENGAGE in another college and well, I followed the conventional power point model and well, it did not turn out that great.

This time I decided to follow my instincts and do without the power point. The night before the presentation, I was thinking about what kind of intelligible while at the same time easy to grasps words I should used in the presentation.

ENGAGE works to promote an inclusive society working in partnership with youths living with disabilities.

I know it sounds good but oftentimes is not easy to explain what we are doing in a simple way. Moreover it is equally important to tell not only what we do but also why we are doing.

That’s why I decided to talk about two fundamental things in life: happiness and fairness.

I guess we all know what happiness and what fairness are. Happiness is a state of mind that transcends ourselves by slashing out positive and energetic vibes. You might have thousands of reason for being happy and you do not know why. I asked one of the student when she is happy and she replied saying that she is happy when she achieves something.

Correct: you do something, you put efforts and you get gratified therefore you are happy. I think sometimes we are happy or we should be happy even without knowing the reason. Happiness should be a way of living, a way at looking things even if things are not right or not really good for you. It is not about pretending to be happy when you are not but a smile can help thinking that “well, things could be worse” and this helps you keep going.

Smiling and showing some sort of kindness towards others can really help in gaining what we call happiness.

Now about fairness: it is all about having an equal shot at life. It is about having the same chances at succeeding that others have. If you are fair, you do not take short cut, you do not cheat on anyone, you treat all your friends equally. Fairness is also about having equal access to opportunities. Sadly we know that many persons do not start where others do. Their journey, all the ways, is a steep one.

Now why did I decide to talk about happiness and fairness? Because I believe that volunteerism is an amazing platform to achieve both. That’s the reason why ENGAGE promotes volunteerism as a transformative medium to change lives for better.

Think carefully and deeply: each of us can do her bit to bring happiness and fairness in the lives of others.

Think of volunteers involved in supporting vulnerable groups (unemployed, drug addicted persons, persons suffering of depression, persons living in status of vulnerability because of their disabilities for example) by offering them trainings that can help them discovering that missing sense of agency that makes the difference in every single day.

Here it is not about being super heroes but simply acting responsibly by incorporating values and principles silently enshrined in any single volunteering action.

By volunteering, you establish a personal relation with others in need of your help, creating a new connection with these persons based on respect and dignity by learning also from them. It is not just a transfer of knowledge. It is about empowerment in two directions: at the receiver and at the giver levels.

Being always at the margin, how do you think would they react to your reaching out? Wouldn’t they be happy not only because of the support they receive from you but also because they are treated with fairness? Would you as a giver, be happy to learn something from those you are supposed to help?

This is the real truth about volunteering: it is transformative because actually is much more than helping others to be happy and gain a new sense of entitlement that was missing before. Volunteerism is powerful because it changes for better the lives of the same volunteers.

This happen in very practical ways because volunteerism can help us at succeeding at life. By helping others in return of nothing (this is what volunteerism really means) you always get back more than what you give.

There is even a book published in 2013, a real bestseller, called “Give and Take, Why helping others drives our Success” (http://www.giveandtake.com/) written by Adam Grant that offers a very strong rationale on why everybody should volunteer and give back. In short the author explains how you can excel and do well professionally by giving out your time to help others.

In an article published for the Atlantic, Adam, the youngest professor at Wharton Business School, says “I report evidence that being a “giver” who enjoys helping others can be inefficient in the short run but surprisingly productive in the long runhttp://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/how-to-succeed-professionally-by-helping-others/284429/

So let’s embed volunteerism in our way of living to create happiness in the world, to make the world a fairer place but also to become better and more successful persons.



Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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