Why is it that we help others? What drives us to selflessly dedicate our time for the benefit of someone else?
You can say it’s just being a good person, doing unto others as you would have them do unto you, paying it forward, and getting in Karma’s good books.
There is something deeper, though. Feeling of use to others and helping them in times of need actually brings us a deep sense of satisfaction and joy.
That’s not to take away from the selflessness of the act, but there is an instinctual drive towards empathy that goes way beyond our conscious decisions to help out. There’s an actual branch of science dedicated to it called the Science of Kindness.
The common link between kindness and joy is oxytocin. This is the “love” hormone that is released in the brain when you form social bonds or share physical intimacy with someone.
Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Waguih William Ishak at Cedars-Sinai says that random acts of kindness also release dopamine, which is the feel-good chemical that results in the “helper’s high.”
According to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, kindness not only increases your happiness but can increase your life span too. It can also lower stress, pain, anxiety, depression, and blood pressure.
5 Ways To Make Yourself Happy By Making Others Happy
With all the craziness of the past year, now more than ever people need to be kind to one another. Here are some ideas to help you help others.
If you know someone who is alone and isolated, give them a call, text, or email to let them know you’re thinking about them. Just knowing their existence matters to someone else will give them a boost.
Lend a helping hand
Practical help is love in action. If you know someone who needs help moving house, preparing a presentation, or getting groceries, offer to give up some of your time to help them.
Donate your old stuff
If you have some old clothes, furniture, or anything you don’t use anymore and it’s still in good condition, consider donating it to a local charity.
The power of Politeness
In this dog-eat-dog world, polite people stand out. Take any opportunity you can to show respect to others by standing back at a door for them, letting them get in line first, smiling at them, saying “thank you.’” Remember that there are more important things than the 5 seconds you lost being polite to someone else.
Listen to people
If you don’t know what you can do for someone, listen to what they tell you in general conversation. Usually, people complain about or mention things that are stressing them out or causing them pain. Be aware of this and look out for cries for help to see if you can fill that need.
Your body is chemically wired to help others even without you knowing it. Give it a go and see how it improves your mood and your life in the process.
Sir J.M Barrie, the creator and author of Peter Pan, summed it up well. “Those who bring sunshine to the life of others cannot keep it from themselves.” If you are feeling down in the dumps, your best cure is to go help someone else get out of their dumps; chances are, you will too.