We are always looking for the next trend or scientific study that will point us in the right direction towards a longer life. Unfortunately, there’s no magic pill to make this happen. While the findings below are simply the results of yet another survey, one habit of happy people who live long lives that we should consider: volunteering.
The survey, which was administered to just over 2,300 Americans from all walks of life by the Stanford Center on Longevity and “Time” magazine, found that volunteering gave people a better chance at a long life and also gave them a positive attitude. The survey results were included in the Sightlines Project Report, which gives Americans an idea of where we stand in our never ending quest to be the healthiest people on the planet.
The survey dug into whom and how many people participate in volunteering activities. It was found that a little more than one in four Americans enjoy volunteering. In addition, women are more likely to be volunteers. As we mature with age, the hours we spend volunteering increases. You can also take that to mean, as we grow older, we have more time to spend on activities we truly enjoy and receive satisfaction from.
Remember that whole optimism thing mentioned earlier? Almost half (49 percent) of those surveyed who are currently volunteering somewhere said they were very happy with their lives. Only 31percent of those that weren’t volunteers were able to say the same thing. Those that volunteer are so happy with their lives that 58 percent of them want to live to 100 and only about 10 percent less than that percentage believe they have a realistic chance of doing that.
If someone is younger and volunteering, they will likely continue this habit as they age because they’ll have even more time to dedicate to it. Not surprisingly, volunteers described growing old as a positive experience and used words like “fulfilling” and “fun” to describe it. On the other hand, those who don’t volunteer used negative words like “lonely” and “boring” to describe life as an elderly person.
The act of volunteering, essentially using your valuable time to help someone else, requires a person to be organized and engaged in the here and now. Therefore, those who categorized themselves as volunteers were much more present in the moment, whereas non-volunteers seemed to be the procrastinators, saying they would improve themselves or their situation another day.
After the results of this survey were published, you would think people would run out and start volunteering. That’s not the case, however. As Americans increasingly live their lives from behind a screen, engagement of individuals in community matters is suffering. A major action item for those that conducted the survey is to work on getting those in the 55-to-64-year-old range active in their communities. It is crucial that senior citizens form a new social network after they retire from the workforce.
So, what are you waiting for? Take the path to a longer life and start volunteering!