Doing things for other people is not just a good thing to do but also has a range of health benefits for us. Some research just released looking at the effects of volunteering by people over 50 years has found that it reduces depression, promotes longevity and better health.
There's something about being needed and supporting others that brings out these benefits in ourselves. Being appreciated for helping out seems to be part of this. Being active and productive in a physical sense may be one aspect that brings about the other benefits.
Although the research didn't compare paid work, it seems that there are some benefits to volunteering and the positive energy that comes from doing something because you want to and care about others compared to doing it for pay. When we help others for pay there's a sense that it's not just about the other person, it's something we do for a different reward. Volunteering is much more selfless and brings a deeper meaning to the connections that develop between volunteer and those helped.
Volunteering just has a feel good sense to it that going to work does not have. Working for free brings a different kind of reward to paid work. It brings with it a pride, a sense of purpose that goes beyond those that come from paid work.
Some people don't understand why anyone would willingly work without the reward of payment. Some suggest that it's being ripped off to work without payment. Perhaps this latest research will go some way to show the benefits that can come from volunteering and that life is not all about monetary rewards.