Have an Opinion

We can all take a cue from singer Sheryl Crow. After recovering frombreast cancer in 2006, the survivor reclaimed her life by becoming moreof an activist about matters that were close to her heart, such asglobal warming and fundraising for Scleroderma research. She has backedup her talk with action, by donating some proceeds of ticket sales tothe UN World Food program, and a percentage of record sales to breastcancer research.

Role model
By involving herself in issues that affect others, rather than focusing only on her own troubles, Crow successfully battled cancer, and moved forward with her life – she even adopted a child along the way. Her actions make her happier, and put her more closely in touch with others. This makes her successful in a way that’s can’t be measured in dollars. She is a true model for all of us to follow in pursuing our own self-fulfillment.

Say it
Although most of us aren’t superstar musicians with the power of influence or the financial means to benefit millions, we do have a “voice” – and that voice should not be suppressed, even if it’s just in a simple conversation with a friend. So what’s the lesson? Don’t be afraid to be opinionated! It doesn’t matter if others don’t agree with you – you’re getting your feelings off your chest and, at the same time, you’re becoming a conversationalist, which makes you more interesting.

Once you tackle that aspect of openness, you can move on to volunteering. According to getinvolved.gov, a website run by the Corporation of Community Service (an organization that helps Americans to become involved locally) volunteering helps rebuild our communities, and solve serious social problems. It’s also great for your health!

The site notes that volunteering enhances social support networks – which, in turn, enhances the well-being of the volunteer. The Public Health Agency of Canada claims that “people with strong social support networks have lower premature death rates, less heart disease, and fewer risk factors.” L. Graff of the organization Volunteer Ontario, issued research that suggested getting involved “can improve self-esteem, reduce heart rates and blood pressure, increase endorphin production, enhance immune systems, buffer the impact of stress, and combat social isolation.”

This is especially true for older adults, who will enjoy increased life expectancy because social interaction improves quality of life. Furthermore, focusing on the details involved in causes or fundraising helps keep one’s mind sharp, which acts as a buffer against many mind-diminishing adult-onset diseases.

Feel it
Sound like poppycock? Then just think about it… the last time you did a good deed, did you get goosebumps? Did you have a little extra spring in your step? Did you walk a little prouder, a bit straighter? Did you smile more? All these come from reaching out to others who need your help.

Once you’ve moved on from having an opinion to getting involved, you may find yourself in a much happier place. You will have more friends, more invitations to social events, more information about various topics, and a positive feeling from knowing that you’ve helped make someone else’s life better. Just remember – it all started with a conversation… so don’t be afraid to speak up. You’ll be happier and healthier!

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