Two major elements in living a longer and happier life is to have a purpose and volunteer. Rotary offers both. The Harvard Study of Adult Development, by Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz, conclude that "Good relationships keep us healthier and happier. Period."
Other studies, one that examined 10,000 adults in the United Kingdom and another that looked at 6,000 American women who have been widowed, agree. They found that, to find both meaning and happiness, it's important to connect with people and have a purpose.
In all cases, the studies showed that men and women who took time to volunteer, even just a few hours a week, met more people, formed relationships with more people, and took pride and satisfaction in the volunteer work they were doing. "People who have a strong sense of purpose and meaning in their lives have a markedly lower risk of death than those who don't."
Rotarians meet in person weekly to keep those relationships strong. The friendships and camaraderie we enjoy, along with the ethos of "Service Above Self" help us reach out to help others. We plan projects, we raise funds, we reach out for others to join us, we learn, and, most importantly, we have fun.
Our community projects help those who are struggling locally. Our youth programs give opportunities to future generations to discover their own path to success and happiness. Our international projects broaden our viewpoint to connect, understand and help others far away. And by connecting, we discover they have the same fears, hopes and dreams we do. We also discover that by connecting with other clubs around the world, there's almost no limit to what we can achieve.
I joined Rotary to change lives. The one I changed most was my own.