And it’s not all about money – we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good!
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Doing things for others – whether small, unplanned acts or regular volunteering – is a powerful way to boost our own happiness as well of those around us. The people we help may be strangers, family, friends, colleagues or neighbours. They can be old or young, nearby or far away.
Giving isn’t just about money, so you don’t need to be rich. Giving to others can be as simple as a single kind word, smile or a thoughtful gesture. It can include giving time, care, skills, thought or attention. Sometimes these mean as much, if not more, than financial gifts.
Scientific studies show that helping others boosts happiness. It increases life satisfaction, provides a sense of meaning, increases feelings of competence, improves our mood and reduced stress. It can help to take our minds off our own troubles too.
Kindness towards others is be the glue which connects individual happiness with wider community and societal wellbeing. Giving to others helps us connect with people and meets one of our basic human needs – relatedness.
Kindness and caring also seem to be contagious. When we see someone do something kind or thoughtful, or we are on the receiving end of kindness, it inspires us to be kinder ourselves. In this way, kindness spreads from one person to the next, influencing the behaviour of people who never saw the original act. Kindness really is the key to creating a happier, more trusting local community.