Want happiness? Become a mentor | AspenTimes.com

Want happiness? Become a mentor

Dear Editor:

As National Mentoring Month draws to a close, there is still a huge, unfilled demand for mentors in the valley. The Buddy Program, Spellbinders and YouthZone are just a few of the nonprofits in the valley looking for additional volunteers to connect with our area youth in a meaningful and life-affirming way.

Of course you want a socially strong and vibrant local community. After all, strong community connections help keep violent crime and incidences of depression low while contributing to the academic success of our valley’s kids. But why should you volunteer, especially for something as time-consuming as mentoring? After all, the snow is finally falling again, and powder days can’t be far behind. And, with President’s Day week and spring breaks just around the corner, you may finally be able to pick up enough shifts to buy that (insert object of your desire here) you have been eying.

But consider this. A virtual flood of recent research on happiness shows that a new purchase will only increase your happiness for a few hours, or at tops a few days. However, giving to others, whether your time or your money, will lead to lasting happiness. The more meaningful your commitment, the higher your return.

An article recently published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine concludes that “a strong correlation exists between the well-being, happiness, health, and longevity of people who are emotionally and behaviorally compassionate.” Economists at the University of Zurich reported that, “Volunteering constitutes one of the most important pro-social activities: Volunteers are more satisfied with their life than non-volunteers.”

So before National Mentoring Month comes to a close, make a commitment to your own happiness. Give Spellbinders, English in Action, The Buddy Program or whatever valley nonprofit inspires you a call and find out what it takes to make a huge difference in the social fabric of our community. If becoming a mentor is too big of a first step, there are still virtually hundreds of nonprofits in the valley that are greatly in need of volunteers and cash donations.

So, come on! Take charge of your own happiness while creating a robust future for our community.

Catherine Scales Johnson


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