Updated: Mar 8, 2022
Did you know that giving money voluntarily makes you feel just as good as receiving it? Or that helping someone else gives you the same boost of good feelings that you might get from delicious food? And that’s just the beginning of why doing good makes you feel good…
Doing good for mental health
Humans are social creatures by nature, so doing something positive for someone else helps to fulfil the need for social connection. Studies have shown that when you willingly do something nice for someone else, it can have numerous positive effects including:
Improving your satisfaction with life
Improving your mood
Reducing stress levels
Not to mention the positive effect it can have on the person you’re helping. The good you do doesn’t need to be huge either. It could be donating money to a good cause, practicing small acts of kindness for friends or neighbours, volunteering in your community, or giving someone your time and attention.
The cycle of goodness
Happy people are more likely to seek out opportunities to do good things for others. When you do something nice for another person, it can both improve your mood and that of the person in receipt of your kindness. Now you’re both feeling happier, you’re both more likely to do more good things. Kindness is contagious!
How to do good
So you’re convinced that you’d like to spread some joy and happiness in the world, but aren’t sure where to start. Here are some ways you can do good and help others:
Volunteer From one off events, to long term opportunities, there are lots of ways you can give your time and skills to help those who need it. Search for local or online opportunities.
Mentor Is there a junior employee at work who could benefit from your knowledge and being taken under your wing?
Random acts of kindness Mowing your neighbour’s lawn whilst you’re doing your own, paying for the next customer’s coffee, litter picking on your daily walk.
Donate Find a charity that aligns with your values and make a one off donation or set up a monthly payment.
Reach out Call a friend who you’ve not spoken to in a while or who is having a hard time, or invite them for a walk if safe to do so.
Wanting to vs having to
Helping others voluntarily is very different from having to help through obligation, which is an important distinction to make. If you’re feeling burdened by your obligations this can have a negative impact on your mental health.
Try to align the good you do with the things you enjoy and that match your values to make sure giving doesn’t become a burden. If you’re enjoying what you’re doing, the impact will be much greater on those you’re helping.
Our sources and for more information: actionforhappiness.org psychologytoday.com Free Health Promotion Resources: Be the first to receive Health Chatter information, and other content related to employee health and wellbeing by signing up to our Health Chatter emails.