Helping Others Feels Good: Here’s Why It’s Important
Here at the Goal Chaser, our goal is to live lives full of purpose. What better way is there to do that than to make sure part of our time is spent helping others? Here are some of our favorite reasons to give back and help those around us.
Helping Others Makes Your Brain Happy
Countless research projects have explored the link between helping others and our own happiness.
One study from the University of Pittsburgh asked 45 volunteers to “give support” to others and found that those surveyed felt more socially connected and overall felt better after doing so. The study found increased activation in certain brain areas and decreased activity in the fear center of the brain when supporting others directly.
Researchers believe this occurs because helping others activates the part of the brain that is linked to “parental care” behaviors. It also links to the amygdala part of the brain, decreasing its activity and therefore our fear and stress.
Giving Meaning to Life
I’m sure you’ve heard it from friends and family alike. You ask them a question about life. What is your current goal, and what is your life goal? Is it to create a legacy and be remembered for generations? Is it to become the CEO of a company and make six or seven figures a year?
If you’re personally lost on this question, creating a vision board can help you pinpoint things you care about and want to focus on moving forward. They don’t have to be too specific, either, and can start as mood boards to signify your ideal environment.
Depending on your religious beliefs, you may have a more concrete answer to the meaning of your life. While Christians generally believe that the meaning of life is to love God and one’s neighbor, Kabbalah followers believe that the goal of human life is to better one’s soul.
Buddhism directs the meaning of life to be becoming enlightened to the “oneness of the universe.” And soome people believe there is no concrete meaning at all or grand purpose.
But no matter the ultimate meaning to life your faith may lend you, it probably doesn’t give you a guideline on what job to get, which street to cross, or which person to talk to each and every single day. Unfortunately, humans don’t come with instruction manuals!
No matter what your religion or belief system is, you’re more than likely having to define and give yourself meaning in life when it comes to specifics.
When we have to define goals for ourselves, they often relate to meeting our own needs (with money) or wanting to be loved and liked (through fame). One of the most underrated goals in life is to help others and uplift them. While this may seem like an unnatural goal at first, try making someone’s day better through a kind message or service done for them.
You just might find yourself happier from helping them both theoretically and physically.
Helping Others Makes the World a Better Place
A core reason behind why some people help others so often is due to their own moral compass and values. Simply put, some find that helping others is a great way to spend their time making the world a more just, fair, and happy place.
Consider what you have that other people may not. Are you financially comfortable? Are you physically healthy? Mentally healthy? Do you have a strong support system of family and friends? Are you not part of any marginalized communities?
Your worth as a human is not bigger or smaller for having or not having any of these things. However, recognizing what you have that others don’t is just as important as recognizing what others have that you strive to attain.
In our previous post on 32 Inspiring Quotes on Volunteering, we enjoyed several quotes from the likes of Barack Obama, William James, and the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama quote we included was, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
Change can start with you, and us, collectively.
Equality vs. Equity
One way to frame your mindset when it comes to helping others is to think about the difference between equality and equity. These can be looked at as different ways to approach fairness. Equality argues that everyone should be treated the same way, no matter what. Equity argues that people should be treated differently based on their individual needs.
So in a society based on perfect equality (which unfortunately doesn’t exist, but for understanding’s sake) everyone would receive the same amount of money, food, medicine, and access to facilities. But in a society based on equity, individuals who need more money to support pets, or more medicine to keep their bodies functioning would indeed receive more than those who did not need that help.
When helping others, it’s important to think about what you can do to make their lives easier and recognize that what they need may be different than what you need. We are all individual people with different abilities, and the most helpful way to well, help, is to tailor to individual needs.
Help Others to Help Yourself
While helping others won’t immediately result in all of your own problems disappearing, helping others can better your mood and help you fulfill a life goal. Helping others will also make you more cognizant about certain ways individuals appreciate and accept help (or not).
Listen and learn how to help in impactful, kind, and fulfilling ways. This will teach you how to become a better listener, helper, and asker of help, too. There’s no better way to learn how to ask for help than by offering help and noticing when others need it.
Ready to learn more about living with purpose, organization, and productivity? Read more of the Goal Chaser today for inspiring quotes and techniques: