02/16/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Volunteer Your Fear Away

When times are most troubled it's easiest to close yourself off from the suffering of others. But what if we zig instead of zag? Instead of wrapping ourselves up in fear, hunkering down until this damn depression blows over, what if we expand ourselves and think about others?

What if we capitalize on this New Year and this new administration and all pledge ourselves to helping those with less than us? If we all pitch in won't we all come out on the other side a little faster?

I teach at Columbia University and am pledging to volunteer at the university's Community Impact two hours a month. Community Impact does everything from career counseling to youth programs to helping the homeless.

I'm a busy guy but I know from past volunteering (in L.A. I volunteered at the suicide prevention hotline) that I'll get much more out of it than I put in.

As H.G. Bohn wrote in A Handbook of Proverbs, "Alms-giving never made any man poor, nor robbery rich, nor prosperity wise."