Monthly Archives: April 2019

Three Ways to Create Happiness

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Finding happiness is a hot topic right now. Everywhere you look there is a new self-help book, television show, or presenter who wants to help people discover how to do this. That being said, the best ways of finding happiness are actually opportunities where we can create happiness in our lives.

Working with a youth service program, I am constantly reminded that we have the power to change and improve communities through our own actions. In fact, YVC’s International Youth Advisory Board selected the word “Empower” for their summer shirts this year and defined it as, “Taking action to lift others up and meet their full potential.”

Why should it comes as a surprise that this same way of thinking can create positive change in our own lives too?

Rather than seeking happiness, we can feel empowered to create happiness in our lives and in the lives of others. The thoughts expressed here are not unique. They are echoed in the lessons we have learned since childhood and have been shared by many thought leaders. The following are things we can all do, and they generally don’t cost anything. YAY! What’s better than FREE happiness?



Express (and Receive) Gratitude

At first, it may feel a little uncomfortable to tell people how they have impacted you. If expressing gratitude is challenging, think about ways to work yourself up to telling people about their positive influence on your life. I was reminded by a youth volunteer in our network recently, that this takes practice – just like everything else. Start with small things like journaling, sending yourself an email reminder of something positive, writing a short letter (even if you don’t send it!), or even just thinking about a moment when someone made you feel better about yourself. Then find a way to remind other people of the gifts they share with you and their community.

Receiving gratitude can be equally hard. Practicing the ability to say thank you might sound funny, but allowing yourself to receive and not deflect gratitude is an important step in creating happiness.

Don’t take it from me: Enjoy this video from SoulPancake on gratitude and happiness.



Be Mindful

The idea of being in the moment and experiencing it fully can be found in everything from exercise to cooking to travel to reading to—well you can add just about any other experience here. However, this is much easier said than done. We are primed to always be planning for the future, and we spend a fair amount of our life gaining skills and experiences that are meant to propel us forward into new things. We don’t often do something just for the experience.

Why not? Why can’t we just say “I am taking a walk to enjoy a walk,” instead of “I am taking a walk because it is a healthy thing to do, and we should all find healthy things to do.” Then, while on said walk, we plan our day, catch up on social media, and read texts from friends. All of these activities may feel natural, but learning to tune them out can be a fun way of training your brain to have a little downtime. Next time you take a walk, encourage yourself to think about each of your senses. What are you smelling, hearing, seeing, feeling, and even tasting?

If you need a little help, there are countless apps and trendy tricks that can help get you in the moment. My favorite one recently has been watching people record one second of each day with the intent of stringing these moments together at the end of the year. They consciously select one favorite moment to savor and share. Take your pick and enjoy finding your moment.

Don’t take it from me: Enjoy this article from The Ladders talking about Yale’s class on happiness and learning to savor more.



Engage in Service

In a world where we increasingly hear about people feeling lonely and depressed (and sometimes we are the person feeling lonely and depressed), it is important to find ways to connect with others.

Did you know that in a recent independent study, youth who participated in Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) programming scored 98% higher on understanding the needs of their community and 75% higher on taking action to meet these needs? Understanding the needs of others can often help us to understand our own needs better. We also feel good when we know we’re helping others. In this way, service is a win-win for everyone involved!

Service allows us to practice both gratitude and mindfulness while helping others and growing personally. THIS is why volunteering can be considered the ultimate act of creating happiness.

”YVC has helped me gain the confidence to go out into the world and make new friends and try new things. It has really made me a better and happier person.” –Christian, O’Neil, YVC volunteer from Alpena, MI

Don’t take it from me: Enjoy this article from HuffPost on health benefits of volunteering and this one from the Harvard Health Blog on the body and mind benefits of volunteering.


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My Life with Youth Volunteer Corps

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Throughout my life I have always been a very service oriented person. I knew that I liked to help others and I wanted to do more. However when my mom signed me up for a summer session of Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) six years ago, I had no idea what to expect or how much my life would change because of it. In addition to the countless hours of service I’ve done, I’ve also had the opportunity to learn more about myself as a leader and a volunteer. I’ve learned about the importance of reflecting on my work and my actions, as well as becoming much more socially aware of both myself and other members of my community.


One service project that always stuck with me was something that I did very early on in my time within YVC. I was still fairly young and still learning about what it means to volunteer. For this particular project we were working with an organization called SOS Community Services located in Ypsilanti Michigan. SOS provides resources such as food, shelter, and other things to help families get back on their feet and regain stability. While we were there, we learned a lot about their mission and services, and it inspired me a lot to take more action in my community. Over the course of the day we packaged food and worked in the food pantry helping families get what they need. It was not the biggest or most intricate service project I’ve done, but it was the first project that made me realize volunteering was something I was passionate about and that I wanted to spend my time in Youth Volunteer Corps.



Throughout my years in YVC, I have been able to see myself learn and grow into the leader I am today. It has taught me responsibility, determination, flexibility, and many other things. One thing that I always found valuable and unique about the YVC in my community was the importance placed on reflection. This has helped me realize exactly how my work is important and why I’m doing it. I will always be thankful to have had the opportunity to work with YVC, as many of the skills I’ve learned and experiences I’ve had will stay with me for the rest of my life.




Hi, I’m Sarah Campbell from Ann Arbor, MI. Aside from the obviously love of service and volunteering, I am very passionate about the arts, such as theater and music, as well as traveling and photography. In Ann Arbor, I’ve been a part of my school’s theater company for 3 years now. I’ve played the guitar, ukulele, and bass for about 6 years. As for the traveling and photography, I’ve always loved seeing and learning things in new places and I think it’s super fun to capture moments on camera whether it’s the new places I’ve gone to or just fun photoshoots with friends.







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