Take on problems bigger than yourself (DW#964)

We have been chatting about meaning purpose and service are an important part of mental and emotional wellbeing.

I like to think of it in very simple terms:

  • Feeling overwhelmed by your problems? Feeling sorry for yourself? Taken for granted? Unappreciated? Annoyed?
  • Take on a larger problem. A cause beyond yourself.
  • To put your problems and challenges in perspective, take on bigger ones!
  • Social scientists and psychologists call this "the activism cure"

Doctors and psychotherapists have long observed, and scientists can now explain that people who give to others live healthier and happier lives. Studies show that this is true whether a person has suffered trauma, suffers from anxiety and/or depression, or is grappling with a case of the blues, research shows that those who take "the activism cure" find personal healing in their efforts to heal the world.

The first major study to observe this phenomenon in 1986 concluded that people who were in better physical and mental health were more likely to volunteer. However, the converse was also true: "volunteer work was good for both mental and physical health. People of all ages who volunteered were happier and experienced better physical health and less depression", the study concluded.

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