Being happy and being kind are two things we often strive to be in life. Sometimes we don’t realize that the two are very closely linked. Doing good deeds can bring untold amounts of happiness; both for the recipient and the benefactor. Nobody loses when it comes to kindness.
Few people make the connection between doing good deeds and personal happiness, and even if they do, fewer still are solely motivated by this. So why do people do good deeds?
Many people realize that this prosocial behavior can aid personal growth enormously. For example, getting involved with an international aid charity may open your eyes to what it’s like for those who live in developing countries. You will become more culturally and emotionally aware and have a better understanding of the world you live in. Working in a homeless shelter may make you more grateful for all you have: a warm bed, nutritious food and a roof over your head. Sonja has done a great deal of research in how being grateful can lead to increased and lasting happiness. She believes that gratefulness can ‘change the way you regard your life [and the] pleasant but constant things you encounter, such as a beautiful tree outside your window, a good-natured colleague and a helpful coworker, your favorite local restaurant, or your best friend.’ It’s an easy way to add meaning and purpose to your life.
Overall, the message we can deduce – from Sonja’s research, as well as from analyzing our own experiences – that nothing negative can come from doing good deeds. It’s mutually beneficial and can have significant and unexpected results. It’s also true that we’re not perfect, yet we can always strive to be better at any stage of our lives. It’s never too late to dig deep and rediscover the goodness within! If you’ve ever thought: ‘what’s the point of everything?’ and struggled to find an answer you’re happy with, why not try finding fulfillment in helping others. Make your main goal in life to do everything you can to leave the world a better place than how you found it. Start today your good deeds mission today. There’s no time like the present!
7 Scientific Facts About the Benefit of Doing Good
Science has spoken.
1. DOING GOOD DECREASES STRESS
According to a 2013 study examining the relationship between volunteering and hypertension, giving back can have a significant impact on blood pressure. Researchers found that adults over 50 who volunteered about four hours a week were 40 percent less likely than non-volunteers to have developed hypertension four years later.
Additionally, being generous can have the same effect, according to a 2010 study, which found that the less money people gave away, the higher their cortisol levels.
Volunteering has been found to lower blood pressure.
2. DOING GOOD INCREASES LIFE-EXPECTANCY
Yes, it’s true. Researchers from the University of Buffalo found a link between giving, unselfishness and a lower risk of early death. The findings show that subjects who provided tangible assistance to friends or family members (running errands, helping with child care, etc.), reported less stressful events and, consequently, had reduced mortality. In other words, “helping others reduced mortality specifically by buffering the association between stress and mortality.”
3. DOING GOOD MAKES US FEEL BETTER
Ever felt a sort of “rush” after performing a good deed? That sensation is known as ‘helper’s high’ and is produced when your brain releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals of the brain. When you do something good for someone else, your brain’s pleasure centers light up, releasing endorphin and producing this high. Not to mention, doing good has also been known to generate feelings of satisfaction and gratitude.
Helping others generates a feeling similar to a ‘runner’s high,’ where the brain’s pleasure centers light up (Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com)
4. DOING GOOD MAKES US HAPPIER AT WORK
According to a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, altruists in the office are more likely to be committed to their work and less likely to quit their jobs. The researchers also found that individuals in their mid-30s who rated helping others in their work as important, reported they were happier with their life when surveyed 30 years later.
Overall, the study came to an important conclusion about office altruism: those who help others are happier at work than those who don’t prioritize helping others.
5. DOING GOOD PROMOTES MENTAL HEALTH
The results are in! After an extensive review of 40 studies on the effect of volunteering on general health and happiness, the BMC Public Health journal has concluded that volunteering is also good for mental health. The review found that – along with improved well-being and life satisfaction – volunteering is also linked to decreased depression.
6. DOING GOOD LEADS TO HAPPINESS
“People who engage in kind acts become happier over time.” It’s that simple, according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Lyubomirsky, who has studied happiness for over 20 years, found that performing positive acts once a week led to the most happiness.
In addition, Researcher Stephen Post of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine found that when we give of ourselves, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization and physical health is significantly improved.
7. DOING GOOD WILL MOTIVATE YOU TO DO GOOD AGAIN A 2012 study published in Psychological Science found that thinking about times you’ve helped others will make you want to help others again. The research found that reflecting on your past good deeds makes you feel selfless and want to help more, as compared to reflecting on the times others have helped you. In other words, thinking about what you’ve given others – and not only what you’ve received – will motivate you to do good again and again.