From Urban Dictionary:
1) The act of giving of yourself to help others. Often followed by a rush of happiness at knowing you've made a difference, but sometimes frustration occurs at going unappreciated or unacknowledged. However, many people volunteer tirelessly anyway, not wanting or needing any validation or applause for what they do.
2) What many high school students are forced into doing in order to graduate.
Do you volunteer? If so, what compels you? Personally, my volunteerism record blows. I volunteered a lot in high school, as in the second definition above. I volunteered some in college, partly to meet chicks. Many years passed. I started caring a lot more about everything, and did weird "volunteer" type stuff, like organizing a homeless potluck. There are a few potential reasons why volunteerism is a paleohacks issue:
- Paleohacks is made up of people volunteering to answer questions. Sure, you can get a kick out of displaying knowledge and acquiring points. That's what drew me in. But many people seem to actually care, and there have been several cases of in-depth answers to help paleohackers through health issues.
- Volunteerism is associated with improved health and happiness. The investigators controlled for socioeconomic status but obviously this isn't a definitive study. Mark Sisson has a great article on the health benefits of altruism, including immune and sleep benefits.
- Dopamine: When we do good things and receive good feedback, the dopamine rush reinforces the behavior and can lead to a virtuous cycle. I can't find a paper on this, but there's gotta be some cool stuff about volunteerism and the brain.
- Paleo evangelism: Let's call a spade a spade. Paleo evangelism is fun, but it's tough not to cross the line. Regardless, many on here became paleo after someone volunteered to teach them about this crazy new way of thinking about food. Sometimes even people who you don't know so well, or at all.
- Community/tribe dynamics: We live in an impersonal, f*ck you world of 7 billion humans. An unappreciated part of the paleolithic dynamic was living in small community settings where people didn't totally ignore you and you didn't work in a windowless cubicle. Volunteerism is a breath of fresh air -- people actually WANTING to help for no monetary gain.
- Cooking: There's just something about cooking for people. Family dinners, potlucks, sharing meals with strangers. The primal urge (oh crap, I guess Sisson owns that word now) to share good food, take in the aromas, feel your belly become full. That's maybe why soup kitchen volunteering is so satisfying?
So what say you? Volunteer an answer please :)