In a quest to achieve a happy life, many people look towards books, blogs, influential speakers, and even meditation. While these are good options, there is one specific activity that is proven to increase happiness: volunteer work.

That’s right: volunteering makes you happy. In fact, reported that 94 percent of people who volunteer say it improves their mood, and 78 percent agree that it lowers their stress levels. It could be due to the three main benefits of volunteering: an improved connection to those you serve, a boost in your mental and physical health, and a release of healthy mood-altering endorphins.

Connect with Others

Cultivating strong relationships isn’t an easy task, especially when you’re new to an area or looking to explain your social circle. Volunteering is a wonderful way to form new connections within your community.

If you love animals, for example, and long to build friendships with other animal lovers, or you want to meet someone whose dog can become your dog’s new best friend, why not volunteer at the local animal shelter? “[Volunteering] strengthens your ties to the community and broadens your support network, exposing you to people with common interests, neighborhood resources, and fun and fulfilling activities,” according to

Boost Mental and Physical Health

Volunteering requires mental and physical activity. Serving food at a soup kitchen means you will have to stand for a long time. Planting a tree in a neighborhood park requires that you listen to directions carefully so you can set your new tree up for success. And cleaning out your house to donate unused items requires enough mental exertion to organize your items neatly and efficiently.

All that moving and thinking leads to a healthier lifestyle, which explains why volunteers report better physical health than those who don’t volunteer.

Boost Your Mood Naturally

During your last act of service, did you walk away feeling happy? Psychologists have labeled this euphoria the “Helper’s High.” Participating in charitable activities releases pleasure-inducing endorphins into your body. These endorphins boost your mood and make you happier.

If you want to create a happier life, the three reasons above should be enough to motivate you to volunteer your time to help others. Volunteering will help you form more connections, experience better health, and reap the benefits of happy endorphins.