How to feel happier, by helping others

The first step in my “Steps to a Happier Life” is to Help Others.

Research (by Lyubomirsky, Seligman, and others) has repeatedly shown that helping and giving to others makes us feel happier.

It needn’t be about giving money to friends/charities, though that is a nice thing to do. We can give our time, our support, our ideas, our energy and/or physical strength. We might do these things for friends and family, or for strangers; we might volunteer to join a community group.

We can also help others in little ways: by sharing positivity and spreading loving kindness. This might be by expressing gratitude, thanking someone for something they have done; or by sharing something positive like a joke or a happy story; or it might be as simple as smiling at people we come into contact with.

My coaching clients take action to feel happier, and often simple things seem to have a huge effect.   Here are some ideas for things you can do to spread some happiness and thus feel happier yourself:

1) Smile at 5 strangers today; better still, strike up positive conversations with some of them.

2) Take the time to write a letter / email to someone to thank them for something they have done that has had a positive impact on your life – tell them the effect it had.

3) Pick one day each week to perform 5 acts of kindness to friends and strangers, or perform a different act each day – these must be things you do deliberately and consciously (it doesn’t work to look back over the last 24 hours and work out what you did that might count) – acts could include: buying cakes for people at work, visiting a friend, passing on a book you enjoyed, helping someone with their shopping, giving up your seat on the bus, etc

Questions to think about:

1) Who could you give some time to this month?
2) Who might benefit from your ideas at the moment?
3) Who would appreciate your support right now?
4) Who struggles to do the cleaning / gardening / shopping, that you could give your physical strength / energy to this week?
5) What community groups are in need of volunteers, that you could consider helping?

Tell me what you think – share what you have done to help / give to people, and how you felt afterwards – it’s great to hear your experiences, and I feature some of them in my newsletters.

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  2. Ellen says:

    This is cool!