STK - Symbol of shaking hands together

If you are like me, then the last year has been something out of a science fiction novel.

Globally, we are dealing with a pandemic that has changed the narrative of the free world. It’s almost as if you can’t have a discussion with anyone without it turning to COVID or politics.

Sadly, those are the two topics that could have unified us as a population, yet they have divided up friendships and even households.

It saddens me to hear of story after story where people have stopped talking to others, people they loved before, because of their belief systems over one thing or another. We keep saying, “We’re all in this together,” but are we?

The “common good” is an idea that basically notes that when we work together to improve the wellbeing of people in our society, and thus the world, we all benefit from the outcome.

In one definition, it notes that “the rights of the individual to personal possessions and community resources must be balanced with the needs of the disadvantaged and dispossessed.”

I think this is beautifully stated.

I seem to be hearing the phrase “what’s in it for me?” a lot lately. Regardless of the issue that is causing the question to be asked, let’s look at seven of the health benefits of helping others according to the different researchers at MentalFloss:

  1. Helping others can increase your lifespan. Research shows that those who volunteer regularly have an improved ability to manage stress and get sick less often. Being around others also helps stave off loneliness and is good for social health. In the time of the pandemic, please volunteer to mask up and keep your distance. It will help us all live longer.
  2. Helping others is contagious. One study found that people are more likely to be helpful when they see others doing acts of good. Imagine the ripple effect this could have in our communities. If we were all concerned for the common good, we would all go about being helpful. Please be mindful of helping others still. People still need help and still need to be taken care of. Consider helping with yardwork, shoveling walks or cleaning up litter in the neighborhood.
  3. Helping makes us happy. One bit of research followed 2,000 people over 5 years and found those people who identified as “very happy” volunteered at least six hours each month. There are theories that it may be because of the physical or social activity, or it could be the neurochemical release from the brain. Either way, it’s a good idea.
  4. Helping may help with chronic pain. One interesting study noted that in a group of people who were chronic pain sufferers, when they worked as volunteers, they had a reduction in their own personal symptoms. This is fantastic.
  5. Helping lowers blood pressure. A research study on older individuals who volunteered at least 200 hours a year found that the act of volunteering alone decreased their risk of hypertension by 40%. This is amazing.
  6. Helping can help promote positive behavior in teens. Research by leading sociologists shows that teens who spend time volunteering have better grades and self-image. Teens are struggling so much right now with mental health that this could be a great idea to mitigate it.
  7. Helping can give you a sense of satisfaction and purpose. Many different studies have shown that volunteering can help people feel a sense of identity and purpose.

To help the common good in this time, please be considerate of those around you.

You may not think that any of the pandemic affects you, or it’s all a hoax. Regardless, as a common community, we have been asked to mask up and socially distance for now.

Let’s all please work together to protect others and to keep businesses going. Be kind out there.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!