It’s not just a theory – science shows us that we feel great when we do good for others. But it isn’t just emotional benefits we get; it’s mental and physical too. Think about it, think about the last time you did a good deed for someone – how did you feel after? Did you get a boost of happiness? Most likely. Did you have that moment where you knew that good karma would come back to you? When we know we have done good for others, we get an immediate benefit.
Lower stress levels
Being generous with your time or with your cash has been shown to reduce stress levels. Adults that volunteered a few hours per week were less likely to have high blood pressure or develop hypertension in the following four years. But it isn’t just giving your time to worthy causes like Diana & Alex Klurfeld; giving cash has the same effect. So if you don’t have time, you can give cash, and if you are on a budget, you can give time. If you have neither, don’t worry; signing petitions and sharing links and stories can be helpful too.
Doing good gives us a rush of the happy hormones that we need to feel good. If you have ever done something good for someone and felt a joyous rush afterward – that is precisely it. Those feel-good hormones like endorphins and serotonin flood our body, and the more often you do something that makes you feel that way, the bigger your stocks of those hormones are. We are looking for satisfaction and joy in our work or our hobbies. Giving time and volunteering gives you that satisfaction. Feeling valued and satisfied in your work or hobby will build your confidence too.
While nothing is guaranteed, every little helps! Research has found that it is possible to lower the risk of early death when we do good deeds. The study was completed at the University of Buffalo. They studied people who did things for others like shopping and running errands had less stressful events in life. And, most important, less mortality.
The study’s conclusion – “Helping others predicted reduced mortality specifically by buffering the association between stress and mortality.”
So just by helping someone with a small portion of their day, you can have a significant impact on your life span.
Better working experience
When we are full of good feelings, there will be an increase in confidence and motivation. Both of those in combination can improve our productivity and attitude to work. Not everyone can help others within their work, so volunteering outside of work hours is ideal for you to benefit from those things. When we approach things with a positive and motivated outlook, we are more like to be happier within the tasks. Feeling happier in how we spend our time means we are less likely to quit work and be more committed to what we are doing. The study shows that on a basic level, people who help people are happier in their work than those who don’t. Volunteering can also give you a new set of skills that can help you progress in work, or you may choose to change your career path to meet your new motivations.
The motivation to do good comes from doing good! The more good you do, the more motivation you have to do it. It is a great cycle to be in. A study has shown that even thinking about a time you did good things for other people will give you the urge to do it again. Because the rush of excitement and joy is enough to motivate you once more. That is how powerful it is. Simply the thought of the good you have done will motivate you to do it again! If you often think about what you can get or be given, you might be missing a trick to feeling great – by focusing on what you can give instead.
There are a lot of layers to mental health, and performing one good deed won’t be enough to combat depression completely – but it can provide a little bump in the feel-good hormones that you need. A study conducted looked at general happiness found that volunteering made people feel happy, and we know that joy is great for positive mental health. The conclusion was that evidence pointed to the fact that volunteering may benefit mental health and survival. It also showed that those with depression saw positive results on life satisfaction and wellbeing. It means that volunteering is shown to have a positive impact on mental health, including depression.
If you are volunteering on a phone line or perhaps from behind your computer screen, unfortunately, this one won’t count for you. Many volunteer roles require us to make a physical effort—planting community gardens, cleaning and walking dogs in shelters, and more required physical actions. There are also walking programs to help the local community. All of those add to your physical health and encourage you to get some fresh air and work your body a little bit extra.
When you become part of a community that helps others, you find other people with the same interests. Slowly over time, you will build a community and support system that has the same goals and motivations as you. Being surrounded by the people helping and those you are helping doubles up on those happy feelings. Knowing that you are accepted and supported in how you live can bring a tremendous feeling of confidence in your choices and how you choose to live. Doing good for others, no matter how you choose to do it, gives you a massive range of benefits. Although we should do good for others because we want to, it’s nice to know that it comes back to you in so many different ways.
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