Home » Blog » Inspiring Stories » People Helping People » Do Good, Feel Good, Change Your Life!

Author

Share this story

Do Good, Feel Good, Change Your Life!

Research shows that doing good for others improves your capacity for optimistic thinking.

Helping Others
GP-Inspiring Stories Tag Content GP-Inspiring Stories Tag Content GP-Inspiring Stories Tag Content GP-Inspiring Stories Tag Content GP-Inspiring Stories Tag Content GP-Inspiring Stories Tag Content GP-Inspiring Stories Tag ContentGP-Inspiring Stories Tag Content

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”—Acts 20:35

Countless deeds of generosity have been inspired by these words. And now researchers are discovering just how important acts of kindness can be—for the person who performs them.

Even if you’re feeling truly lousy, giving to others can make you feel happy. It can also improve your immune system, lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk for diseases like asthma and diabetes, according to dozens of recent scientific studies summarized in the book Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life by the Simple Act of Giving.

“Generous behavior is closely associated with reduced risk of illness and lower rates of depression,” says the book’s co-author Dr. Stephen G. Post. “By learning to give, you become more effective at living itself.”

Even small acts of kindness can provide you with big benefits, if you do them regularly, says Post. Here are four ways you can feel great while doing good.

1. Make a compassionate phone call.
Feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders? Instead of stewing about it, pick up the phone and reach out to a friend who’s also going through tough times. “It only needs to be 15 minutes,” says Post, who currently directs the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York. “Say, ‘I heard you lost someone.’ Or, ‘That must have been a disappointment.'” Over time, making calls like this can lead to an improved sense of self-esteem and happiness, according to a Harvard study.

The benefits also apply to those suffering from a case of the blues. “It’s a great way to shift your focus away from yourself,” says Post. “It gives you perspective: You’re not the only person in the world with troubles.”

2. Volunteer for an hour.
Several studies have shown that when you engage the part of the brain associated with compassion, it actually pushes negative thoughts away. “It’s like they can’t exist in the mind at the same time,” says Post. Of course, it’s not easy just to forget something that you’re angry about. Meditating or listening to calm music can help, but to re-focus your mind and move outside yourself, “Go out and volunteer at a soup kitchen.”

3. Give thanks.
“Sit down and reflect on the ways you’ve been blessed,” Post suggests. Giving thanks and focusing on what you can be grateful for—either in a thank-you note to a friend or in a journal—can lead to a greater sense of happiness, according to an experiment conducted at the University of California, Davis.

4. Make someone laugh.
When you cheer someone else up, the feeling usually goes both ways. “I have lots of good jokes,” says Post, who points out that laughter is a universal experience—even monkeys laugh. “It’s a total stress-buster.”

Not only will telling a funny joke drive away the blues, it can make them (and you) healthier, too; a University of Maryland study showed that laughter can help blood vessels function better. “Well-timed humor is good for the physiology,” says Post. Now that’s something to feel happy about.

Download your FREE positive thinking ebook!

Share this story

Community Newsletter

Get More Inspiration Delivered to Your Inbox

Scroll to Top