Volunteering breeds more living, study suggests

From an insurance sales professional's perspective, there's more to volunteering than simply helping your community - not to mention serving as a great way to land more referrals and prospects. It could also wind up lengthening your life, a newly released study suggests.

Altruistic actions - i.e., giving back to others without expecting a reward in return - are something that roughly 25 percent of Americans do every year, according to a poll done last year by the Corporation for National and Community Service. A more recent analysis has found that those who help out on behalf of others not only improve the lives of their contemporaries, but also their sense of self.

"Volunteers are happier people."

Roughly 50 percent of volunteers describe themselves as "very happy" with how their lives are going right now, revealed the study, which was conducted jointly by the Stanford Center on Longevity as well as Time magazine. This compared with only about 31 percent who were happy of those who admitted to rarely, if ever, volunteering.

Volunteers desire to live longer
Furthermore, volunteers had a greater zest for life, wanting to live to be 100 years old or more. Of the 2,330 adults surveyed, nearly 60 percent said they "definitely" wanted to reach 100. Of these, nearly half - 44 percent - said they were confident about accomplishing the rare feat after taking into account their family history.

Several studies over the years suggest that optimists tend to live longer than pessimists do, mainly due to having fewer health problems.

Peter Hart of Hart Research Associates, the polling firm that conducted the analysis, indicated that based on the study's findings, enthusiastic volunteers clearly have a tendency to look on the brighter side of things.

"Volunteers belong to a unique cohort with a special [kind of] outlook on life," Hart explained. "When viewing their lives and society in general, volunteers are more likely to see the glass as half-full than half-empty."

More likely to relish current status
Regardless of age, volunteers were found to be more inclined to describe their current point in life as one of their best. Specifically, by a 13-point margin, volunteers called their present situation as a good or great time to be alive versus self-professed non-volunteers.

"Volunteering is high among Generation X."

Generationally speaking, people in their mid-to-late 30s and early-to-mid 40s volunteer the most. In 2014, nearly 30 percent of Generation X volunteered on at least one occasion, CNCS revealed from its annual Volunteering and Civic Life in America study. Millennials - who range in age from 18 to 33 - had a volunteer rate of 22 percent and 26 percent among young adults in their teens and early 20s.

Americans volunteer in a wide variety of disciplines, including education, community service and with religious groups. At 36 percent, the largest share give back through school-related activities, civic or recreational, CNCS detailed from its findings.

Getting involved in the community is a great way to prospect for new clients. By being a proactive, contributing member of a neighborhood, people take notice, allowing them to see for themselves that you as a sales agent put actions behind your words.

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