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Doing good deeds for others improve self, outlook on life

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Posted: October 6, 2013 - 4:51pm  |  Updated: October 7, 2013 - 8:43am

The extensive list of items that college admissions officers look for in applicants is overwhelming. Along with the more obvious academic test scores and sports participation, colleges are also now looking for a history of volunteer work.

A survey conducted shows that 72 percent of college admissions officers prefer a student who has supported one cause over a long time than a student who has flitted between many. Extended volunteer work for a program teaches a student organization, leadership, and teamwork. It truly pays off to be ‘anxiously engaged in a good cause.’

A desire for further education is a great reason to volunteer, but perhaps the noblest reasons to serve are out of love or in search of friendship.

Service is taken to a new level with the “Benjamin Franklin method”. It’s rumored that Franklin asked to borrow a book from a man who did not think highly of him. When the man agreed, Franklin thanked him passionately and the two were soon genuine friends. Franklin said, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.” It seems backwards, but it makes so much sense. When you ask someone to do a favor for you they rationalize that you are worth doing the favor for and that your friendship has value.

This wisdom about service works both ways. It not only improves the happiness of the one receiving service, but the one serving also. When we help others overcome their problems ours seem more insignificant and easier to deal with.

I saw this theory in action a couple weeks ago when I was at volleyball practice. Our team was having a rough day. During the last few minutes, one of my teammates sprained her ankle. Although we were still frustrated from our less-than-stellar practice, another teammate and I helped the girl hobble to the locker room. Seeing that she was really hurt, I gave her a piggy-back ride across the school to where she needed to be. Afterwards, I was in a much better mood. I was no longer thinking negatively and couldn’t complain because I wasn’t thinking of myself.

I went to SOHI’s homecoming dance last week with a good friend of mine. Every time we drove somewhere that evening, he opened the car door for me. It soon developed into a competition between him and my friends’ dates. This small act of service led me to think more highly of him and I think we both had a better time because of it.

To prepare for college and to improve my relationships I am going to seek out additional opportunities to serve in my community and more personally look for ways to serve my friends and those I wish to be better friends with. As Abraham Lincoln wisely said, “To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.”

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