Question of the Week: Volunteering and Giving

John McManamy Health Guide
  • I've been way too busy over the past several weeks with the volunteer work I do for our local NAMI, and it will only get more hectic with our annual Walk coming up. But the activity is vital to my recovery. I recall the first time I walked into a support group in late 1999. The faciliator gave me the same advice I would later hear him repeat to every newcomer that came through the door. This included getting out of the house and doing volunteer work if we were unable to go to a day job.


    Even if we have day jobs.


    It's an ancient principle (check out the Dalai Lama's "The Art of Happiness"), which has been validated by the research of Martin Seligman (founder of "positive psychology") and others. Basically, if we freely give, with no expectation of return, we are a lot happier. You can easily corroborate this by recalling your Christmas tree moments. Were you happier handing out presents or receiving them?

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    But you guys - living with bipolar - are the real authorities on this. Let's build a case for the act of giving. Question:

    Do you volunteer or give your time? Let us know the impact this has had on your recovery.


    This could involve service to a charitable organization or a church or other group activity, but it could also involve private acts of kindness.


    Note: If you don't volunteer or give, please don't interpret any of this to mean there is something lacking in your character. Surviving often mandates reliance on the kindness of others, and I have been in this position, myself (and could very well find myself in this position again). But this does lead to an alternative question:


    If you do not volunteer or give, has reading this jolted you into a realization?


    Personal note: We found out a few days ago that NAMI San Diego (my local NAMI) will be honored at the NAMI national convention this summer as the outstanding local affiliate.


    You can check out this PSA I put together for our NAMI Walk.


    Comments below ...

Published On: March 18, 2011