“No one has ever become poor by giving.” — Anne Frank
The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity — Leo Tolstoy
“Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others.
Unsuccessful people are always asking, “What’s in it for me?” — Brian Tracy
As a father I frequently face tricky questions from my son Avi. Being a 3-year- old is very confusing 🙂 He always asks a lot:
“Why do the leaves turn yellow? ”
“Where does rain come from?”
And then all of a sudden:
“Why don’t people help other people?” — that’s a hard one, I thought to myself and took a pause to answer. So I decided to do brief research to find scientific benefits that would be clear to anyone.
The simple answer to this question would be “by helping others you become happier, healthier and blah, blah, blah… and yes, there are benefits with a scientific basis”. However, after talking to a few friends I realized that not everybody sees a practicality of this process. I believe that deep in our hearts, we all wish good for our neighbors. Reality shows that we don’t have “time, desire” or we just have other priorities to simply care. Moreover, sometimes we don’t let our friends (or neighbors) know that we really need help, what are our true feelings, what we believe to be important, etc. Mix it with ideas of subjectivity, interconnectivity, karma, cause and effect principles and we get a pretty wild soup. IMHO, if you can help a person and you know-how (yes, we might not always know if our actions would really help…) — go for it! At least try! In addition to making the world a better place, you would also experience positive changes physically, psychologically and emotionally. I somehow always felt this way, but it took me time to find empirical evidence of benefits that you can have when you help other people.
Here are my 10 findings
- Increase your level of happiness. Helping other people can make you feel happier and will also increase your sense of satisfaction and well-being. When you do activities like volunteering and lending a helping hand, it stimulates the release of certain neurochemicals that mediate a sense of reward. This makes you happier and gives you a mental uplifting.
- Increase your lifespan. Studies have shown that rendering help can improve your health and contribute to a longer lifespan in the long run. People that volunteer have an increased capacity to manage high-stress situations and they also experience a sense of belonging which prevents loneliness. They are also more active which helps maintain their physical health. Overall, volunteering and helping people can generate feelings of wholesomeness that could increase your lifespan.
- Inspire other people. It has been shown that when a person does an altruistic act, it can inspire other people to do the same. This can cause a positive ripple effect in your community and you would be seen as a beacon of hope that inspires other people to do the same things you have done and even more. “People who engage in kind acts become happier over time,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., a professor at the University of California, Riverside. Why? “When you’re kind to others, you feel good as a person — more moral, optimistic, and positive,” she says.
4. Makes you thankful and grateful for your own life. When you help other people you are automatically forced to analyze their “case”. Caring for others means helping them to develop, overcome obstacles rather than an artificial hindrance or gloss over to gain a deeper appreciation of your own life and what you have.
5. Improves mental health. Spending time to help others can reduce the risk of depression because you will be spending a lot of time around other people (socializing), doing good deeds and giving back to society. In other words, you think less about your own problems and feel more empowered.
6. Alleviate chronic pain. Some studies have shown that people who have chronic pain can experience a reduction in their own pain when they help other people. This probably originates from being able to help other people despite their own personal pain.
7. Promotes cardiovascular health. YES! Helping others in need by volunteering has been shown to reduce the risk of hypertension in older people by up to 40%. This is probably due to the fact that by engaging in such social efforts, they are able to have less emotional stressors in their lives.
8. Gives you a sense of purpose and satisfaction. Helping others helps you retain a sense of identity and gives your life more meaning. This is especially true for people who no longer have jobs or roles that require a lot of their input. For example, elderly parents or retirees.
9. Helps people to exhibit and cultivate positive attitudes. Sociologists claim that people who help other people have an improved self-image and perception of their abilities.
10. Motivates you to keep doing good. The brain is conditioned by its reward system to want to keep doing those things that cause feelings of pleasure. Therefore, when you think about the times you helped people and how it made you feel, you will feel like doing it again. Also, when you spend some time in deep reflection about the effects your good deed had in times past, you would want to do even more.
It goes without saying that helping others does not only makes the world a better place, it also makes you feel better, affects important mind processes positively and also inspires other people to do good as well. There is a scientific basis for all of this and you should take advantage of it.
P.S. If some facts remind you of “captain obvious” — I’m happy you’re already implementing these ideas in your life :)))