Recently, a study came out that said volunteering could increase longevity – if you were doing it to truly benefit others and not for self-serving reasons.
This made me wonder about two things. First of all, is it even possible to do something to help others WITHOUT it coming back to you in some way? There was actually a “Friends” episode where Joey bet Phoebe that she couldn’t help someone without feeling altruistic. To prove otherwise, she donated to a telethon for Sesame Street, which she hated. Ultimately, she ended up happy that her money is what helped Joey reach his goal for donations – and she lost the bet.
The other question is, do only volunteers benefit from this benevolent feeling, or can employees, too? Does a volunteer firefighter get less satisfaction from his or her work than a paid staff member, simply because they earn an income? My guess is no.
Of course, there are a lot of variables that go into any type of work, such as the task at hand, the environment, and the organization’s mission. If someone loves the mission of an association, but hates their job function, it would understandably be a factor in their overall happiness and health. But, if they enjoy their daily work AND are motivated by their employer’s vision, it could be a recipe for success.
I’m willing to guess – in my entirely unscientific opinion – that anyone working for a cause they believe in can reap many of the same rewards – whether they are a volunteer or an employee.