In a day and age where society is constantly pushing us to improve ourselves, it’s important to note that one of the best ways we can do so is by helping others. Volunteering your time and yourself to help others has been scientifically proven time and time again to not only make the world a better place to live in, but to improve the life of the person doing the helping.
Celebrities such as Taylor Swift and Scarlett Johansson swear by the fact that helping others adds more meaning to their lives than just singing and acting alone. Both have been spotted helping evacuees fleeing natural disasters and helping fund programs that protect children.
Wondering just how helping others can lead to a better you? Read on to discover six ways science backs up the fact that helping others leads to a better life for all.
1. Helping Others Makes You Happy
Sociologists have been studying the “what” behind what makes people happy for decades. Research from controlled studies has shown that Americans who volunteer at least 5 hours a month report being happier than the average number of people in the country.
Whether it’s because they are more socially or physically active as a result of helping others, the results are clear. Researchers believe that there is a literal mental boost, provided by neurochemicals in the brain, that occurs when we give of our time or resources to help others.
2. Helping Others Helps You Live Longer
Studies have shown that people who volunteer regularly (think soup kitchens, coaching, youth groups), have a greater ability to handle and manage stress than people who do not volunteer at all.
In addition to an excellent level of stress management, people who volunteer have a better sense of life satisfaction. These things help keep loneliness at bay and enhance their lives in such a fashion that their health is actually positively impacted.
3. Helping Others Encourages Positive Behavior
Whether you are a teenager volunteering with your school or Church or an adult regularly seeking out ways to help others, behavior is positively impacted when you regularly volunteer in some capacity. Science has shown in many studies that people who spend even just a small percentage of their time helping others leave much less risky and more wholesome lives. It’s important to note that when you are helping others, people see it, and thus your good actions trickle down to others.
4. Kindness Is Contagious
You hear the saying all the time, “Pay it forward”. Whether on the news or online you will find undeniable evidence that when people go above and beyond to help others, whether it be paying for their coffee or letting them cut in front of you in line, it helps them just as much. The feeling of giving and helping can be so good and so contagious that once you’ve helped a person, they often turn around and help another person as a result. By your one good deed, you cause a ripple effect which can be felt for days, years, decades later!
5. Helping Others Can Relieve Physical Pain
Because the mind body connection is so strong, doctors have been amazed to see a reduction in pain of patients with Chronic Pain when they focus on doing something in their lives to help others.
While science still isn’t exactly sure if it’s because of the endorphins released when they help others or if it’s because they are distracted from their own pain, we do know that volunteering time or talent provides tremendous relief for a lot of people living in with painful conditions.
6. Helping Others Gives Your Existence Meaning
As humans we were born to not only survive, but to help others survive as well. Living in this day and age where we are provided with food, water, shelter readily, sometimes our purpose can be lost. We are hardwired to “do”. By stepping outside of ourselves and focusing our time and talents on other people, we can be renewed with a new meaning in our lives and feel a sense of confidence and satisfaction, knowing that we are here for a reason and spending our lives doing good.
Sometimes the simplest ways of improving our lives are right at our fingertips. An elderly neighbor who needs help taking the trash out, a person who comes up short with change in line for lunch, regardless of who you help, volunteering your time will improve your life in amazing ways!
Sarah Williams is a full time blogger and a huge nutrition freak. She loves to advise people on achieving better bodies, well-nourished minds and sparkling dating life. She shares her advice in Wingman Magazine.
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