Remember the last time you did something good? Be it giving to charity, helping out a friend, or doing a sponsored run/skydive/session sat in a bath of baked beans, whatever the action for whatever cause, it made you feel good didn’t it? According to a number of studies, doing something good for others makes us happier people in general.
By doing something good, we promote a sense of purpose and meaning within our own lives. A study carried out by psychologists at the University of Louisville in Kentucky found that sharing and giving to others actually makes us happy. Happier in fact than constantly receiving or engaging in pleasure seeking behaviour, such as nights out and shopping sprees for example.
It is an old, quite traditional concept, that by helping others we also help ourselves. Giving time, money and support (and possibly dignity if you go with the sitting in the bath of beans as a fundraising option) improves your satisfaction with your on life.
Research carried out by a professor from the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that out of 2,000 people, those who were in some way helping others were happier and less likely to be depressed than those who did not. This sense of purpose, satisfaction and happiness was found to carry on into later life, not just during a time of giving to others.
Not only does doing good by others provide a positive emotional reaction, research has also found that it provides a positive chemical reaction. Helping someone else activates the same part of the brain that responds to positive stimuli, and the part of the brain that releases feel good chemicals into your body, which also produce a sense of social bonding.
In today’s culture, where we are constantly bombarded with the message that happiness can be found in those new pair of shoes, those designer clothes, that expensive handbag, or by having the new gadget, the new fad, by looking a certain way, smelling a certain way, or being the person to party the hardest or exercises the most, this is not the be all and end all of happiness. Happiness, actually, can be found in quite a basic idea: by looking out for those around you and helping others.
Living in York, we are privileged to reside in a community that provides many opportunities to help out other people. Be it helping out at the homeless shelter, volunteering with a youth group, getting involved with a local charity event, supporting local groups such as GeniUs! Or just taking the time to support a friend.
So get out there and help someone else, and yourself!