Helping the people around us is a win-win situation. Not only can we help make life a little easier for someone else, but doing things for other people also improves our own health and happiness. In fact, doing things for others is one of the 10 Keys to Happier Living identified by Action for Happiness.
Helping other people can mean many different things. It could involve donating to a cause or charity you support. Or volunteer your time to work within your local community. It could simply mean being there for your friends and family when they need a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on. Even small acts of kindness towards random strangers can make a difference to how we feel about ourselves, and the world around us.
Why is helping others good for our mental wellbeing?
There are many reasons why doing things for other people is key to personal happiness.
- Giving to and helping others is energising. It gives us a sense of meaningful purpose and life satisfaction
- Seeing what a difference we can make to the lives and happiness of others boosts our self-confidence and feelings of self-worth
- Focusing on the needs of someone else forces you to step outside of your own head. Put simply, it can take your mind off things. When you come back to your own situation, it might look a little different
- Supporting others helps us to feel connected to the people around us. We human beings are naturally very social creatures. The more connected we are to other people, the happier and healthier we are too. This doesn't just apply to our existing relationships either. Helping your friends and family will undoubtedly bring you closer together, but for example, if you start volunteering, you're likely to meet a whole new group of people who share your passion and interests. They may not all become lifelong friends, but a wide social circle is key to building resilience and maintaining good mental wellbeing
Join the movement
The idea that kindness and compassion could be the key to happiness and mental wellbeing is certainly catching on.
The global Pay it Forward movement encourages people to spread the word about kindness in two simple steps:
Step 1: Do a good deed for three different people without expecting anything in return
Step 2: Ask them to do the same for three more people, who then do the same for three more people and so on
Similarly, the group Random Acts of Kindness aims to make kindness the norm by encouraging people to do something small for someone else each day. There is even a national Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17. But you don't have to save your good deeds until then.
Remember kindness is contagious! One small act of compassion can have a domino effect that just keeps on going. Here are some small ways you could spread a little cheer and kindness today.
- Donate some money to your favourite charity by arranging a fundraising initiative with your work colleagues, friends and family members
- Buy a coffee for the person behind you in the queue at your local coffee shop
- Pay for someone's parking/bus/train ticket
- Donate non-perishable foods to a local shelter or refuge
- Offer to do some free professional work for a person or organisation who can't afford your services
Has someone you know (or even someone you don't) made a difference to you with a simple act of kindness? Tell us about it @cabacharity using #CABAKindness