Volunteering Series 1: Meaning as Medicine, and Why We Volunteer

Why Volunteers Matter (More Than Anything Else)

The strength of any nonprofit organization, and indeed any organization, is its volunteers.  At WiseTribe, this is certainly the case. In fact, it’s in the name – we can only achieve success with the help, guidance, direction, and wisdom of our Tribe.

We know the ability to produce systemic change effectively comes from the combined strength, diverse viewpoints, and collective dedication to shaping a wiser world.  Without the determined effort of each and every member of our Tribe, we are merely, to quote the prophet Isaiah, voces clamantes in deserto – “voices crying out in the wilderness.”

This is why we are inviting your to help us understand the mindsets and motivations of WiseTribers who get offline and off their couches to actively pursue volunteer opportunities. 

The Volunteer Chronicles

We are launching a series of articles dedicated to learning how you – our Tribe – like to engage in your community.  We want these to be interactive, so as we discuss these topics, we encourage you to share how we can effectively support and work toward the changes that you seek in our local communities and the world at large. Simply fill out the survey questions below as you read.  Your responses are totally anonymous.

So, how are you working to strengthen your community?

The core philosophy of WiseTribe is that our wisdom is the result of our Tribe, so we want to know about your vision for a wiser world, and why you work to make it happen. We will never make change that is transformative if we are not working to accomplish parallel goals.



Work healthier, not harder

The term “work” draws up a lot of connotations, many less than positive.  Generally, work is considered burdensome and something we’d rather not do. Don’t we spend our entire lives working so that we eventually no longer have to work?

Indeed, the words for work in Romance languages – trabajar in Spanish and travailler in French – come from the Latin word trepalium, which means “instrument of torture.”  Yikes! Who wants to do that, especially in our modern lives when our discretionary free time is so limited?

The simplest definition of “work,” however, is “an activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.”  That’s all!

It doesn’t have to be hard, or arduous, or physical, or strenuous. What’s truly important is what we’re working toward – our why.  They say that when you find what you love to do, you never work a day in your life.  In the same way, when we do work in pursuit of our own personal “why,” we can feel integrated, present, and whole.  

Meaning is Medicine

Science backs this up.  Rather than being sheer “torture,” research is proving that expending bodily and/or mental effort toward what we find meaningful and fulfilling has a range of benefits for the body, mind, and spirit:

  • Enhanced social connections and the chance to make new friends
  • Reduced stress, anger, anxiety, and depression
  • Enhanced memory, slowed aging processes, and more vitality
  • A personal sense of purpose, ability, and meaning
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Newly acquired skills and continued learning
  • The chance to try and gain experience in new jobs or career paths
  • A chance to feel empowered

This is the subject of Dr. Lissa Rankin MD’s research, which shows that a holistic approach to health that starts with social connection and purpose-driven work can be more impactful than simply focusing on our physical selves. To explore the dimensions of holistic health, check out Lissa’s excellent TED Talk:



Your holistic wellbeing is why we ask survey questions #2 and #3 above.


Our Personal Gifts

We are all endowed with our own special gifts that allow us to make a contribution that is uniquely ours. When we use our personal gifts to enhance the lives of others, we can feel fulfilled in a way that is integrated with our genuine being.  When we act from a place of integrity and authenticity, it makes us feel good and accomplished in ways that most things can’t.

Sharing our personal gifts is at the hearts of question #4.

Stay Tuned…

In next week’s post, we’ll begin to dive into your responses, and discuss how we can leverage common motivations for strengthening the communities we live in and in a way that aligns with a higher understanding of total health.  In doing so, we will not only create stronger, more vibrant, and more resilient communities, but also stronger, more vibrant, and more resilient lives for ourselves.

Talk about a win-win!

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