You know that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you’ve done something good for another person? Turns out it’s a chemical reaction in the brain, caused by helping others. Doing something kind activates the reward centres of our brains, making us feel good and encouraging us to continue with this behaviour.
Research conducted by academics at Yale and the London School of Economics proves that when we help others, we also help ourselves. Doing things for others generates feelings of well-being within most of us. This is why people who have a higher tendency towards helping others are better able to respond to daily stresses. The study essentially suggests that making an effort to do things for others can help us cope better with everyday problems and negative emotions.
Human beings are genetically hardwired to seek social connection and “warmth”; one of the ways to achieve this is by helping others. Among other things, helping others gives us happiness and mental stimulation, beats depression and stress, and provides us with a sense of purpose. Not only that, by helping others in their times of need we also positively impact our own sense of empowerment and resilience. There is, of course, the added impetus that by being kind and helpful to someone, we could in turn inspire them to pay it forward when the opportunity arises.
One doesn’t need to be rich and powerful to go about helping others. We can all do this in many small ways:
1. Volunteer – We can give our time to a cause or organisation that needs it. If we select something that fits our own passions and ideas, we can identify better with their purpose.
2. Donate – Small amounts are often all it takes to help out a charity. Special occasions like a birthday are great to set up a regular donation. There is something immensely satisfying in the knowledge that the money we donated instead of spending on ourselves is helping others rebuild their lives.
3. Be kind – Everywhere around us, people are struggling with something or the other. A kind word or a friendly gesture may seem insignificant to us, but might make somebody’s day.
These are just three ways of helping others out in times of need or in day to day life. The “how” is not as important here as the “why”. Different people can take different approaches.
Hope you will now agree with me that helping others find happiness is really the key to our own happiness. At the end of the day, what is the point of life if we are not doing anything for the others that walk this earth with us?
I’d love to know your thoughts on this. Feel free to comment here, or reach out on Twitter
Pictures courtesy Unsplash