I’ve come to believe that the simple formula for happiness and success in life lies in caring about others, helping them in any way we can, and sharing what we have. I learned this the hard way. In the beginning, when I was striving for career success, better relationships, improved overall health and mental well-being, I thought others had nothing to do with it, that it’s a battle I had to win on my own.
With this mindset, though, I made my life more complicated and didn’t improve personally, spiritually, or professionally any time soon. Then, I decided to give another approach a try. To make others part of my journey in small ways, but do it every day. I began talking to both strangers and people in my surroundings more, opening up, sharing my goals and giving them advice, or simply listening to their problems and showing compassion.
I stopped investing my time only in ‘me’ activities, and began doing ‘we’ activities. That could be seeing someone in need and spending time with them even if I didn’t feel like it, becoming more active in the local community, volunteering even. All that paid off tenfold because I received so much in return that my career, happiness level, relationships and peace of mind were all improving. After experiencing the wonderful benefits of helping others, I did my research and found out all these positive effects were actually science-backed.
So let me share how sharing and caring can improve our life and maybe inspire you to start doing more for others too:
1. Helping others is good for your health
I’ll begin with the health benefits of caring about others. Doing something altruistic leads to positive physiological changes, strengthens the immune system, and can even reduce pain, thanks to the release of endorphins in the brain.
I started volunteering many years ago and had the chance to experience those benefits first hand. Turns out, volunteers often live longer and have a better general health than those who never get involved in giving to others. I believe it’s the little things that matter. Being there for the person in need is one example. That is if you choose a cause that involves direct communication with the less fortunate, of course.
Nothing compares to seeing another human being open up and realizing no one ever listened to that person, not many cared, and that he might not know what compassion looks like. So when you give them exactly that by simply keeping them company, you can see the transformation in their eyes. As a result, that changes you too.
2. It helps us handle stress better
We all have stressors in our lives, whether we admit it or not. But little did I know that the solution to this too was hidden in volunteering. Once I began doing more for others and focusing less on my desires and needs, my mental health improved. I found meaning, I felt good about myself, and signs of depression, stress, and anxiety started disappearing. Researchers have proven that too and state that because of this, volunteering can increase our lifespan.
3. We form a deeper connection with ourselves thanks to sharing
Giving is a way to connect with others but it also helps us get to know ourselves better, forgive ourselves, and be more compassionate. Ultimately, that leads to feeling good about ourselves and forming a deeper connection that then helps us live a purpose-driven life.
We appreciate everything more when we volunteer. It changes our perspective. It’s proven to distract us from our own problems and thus help us deal with the hardships in life. I can’t count the many deep conversations I’ve had with people I wanted to help and that meant more for them than any food they were given that same day. It’s because they forgot what real connection looks like and once they experienced it, their souls were reborn.
But there were also many examples from my volunteering experience where we just sat there with the person and connected on a deeper level without saying a word. As you know, words aren’t always necessary. But energy can’t be wrong. That person in front of me felt I was there to give without expecting anything in return and simply accepted my good energy and sent back gratitude.
Along with a better relationship with ourselves, we who volunteer also have a better social life. It all begins by noticing a new form of social connection once we start helping those in need. That might lead to friendships that last long. But even if it’s just for the sake of making somebody smile after serving them a meal at a shelter, it’s all for a good cause and we socialize in the most genuine way possible. As multiple studies have suggested, we are social beings and the more interactions we have in life, the better the condition of our brain is
5. Increased happiness levels
Nothing has ever made me feel more thankful for what I already have than giving. Helping others somehow opens our eyes to how little other people might have and we feel like we live in abundance. Then, we begin cherishing all the people in our life, our own body and mind, and each of our precious days on this planet more. We use our time more effectively, do things we love, and socialize.
Every time you do a good deed for others, you get a feeling of euphoria (that’s the endorphins released in the brain) and you feel great. Such a mental boost is even addictive and we seek more of the same feeling once we get to experience it.
People in need can’t fake it and they also can’t hide their happiness. So you are sure they are truly thankful and pleasantly surprised when you go the extra mile. I saw this when I stayed with them longer than planned and they knew I just wanted to be there with them than anywhere else.
Other times I would bring them personalized gifts such as a picture of a place at the other corner of the world so they can dream of being there and have a vision for a better life. Or a book we’ve discussed if I see they like reading and losing themselves in stories.
6. Give more for better relationships
Last but not least, I noticed that giving is good for my relationships. That too is scientifically-proven. One reason is the spiritual growth we experience as a result of giving more. We find meaning and fill the void inside, we are now complete and braver. That boosts self-esteem.
Another great benefit of helping others which affects our already existing relationships in life is the gratitude we are filled with. That transforms into caring about anyone around us more, appreciating their company and making every minute with them count. My loved ones immediately noticed I treated them better, with respect, listened more, and complained less.
I hope these science-backed points will motivate you to find little ways to help others today. Our mission in life is not always sure, but it is connected to going beyond ourselves. And that’s exactly what I did which I consider a turning point in my life. I wish you the same revelation!