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The Secret To Happiness Is Helping Others : What Does Science Tell Us ?

    the secret to happiness is helping others

    Have you ever wondered what the eight billion people on the planet are looking for in their lives?

    Have you ever taken a pause and asked yourself, “What am I doing all this for?

    Why is everyone doing what they are doing?”

    These might sound like deep philosophical questions that don’t have fixed answers.

    But, when you go down the rabbit hole, you realize that they all have the same answer.

    No matter what each of us is doing in our lives, we all essentially want the same thing.

    And that’s happiness.

    I mean, think about it.

    If someone wants to earn a lot of money, why do you think that is? It’s probably because they want to live the life of their dreams, which ultimately makes them happy.

    On the other hand, if someone wants to explore the entire planet, why do you think that is? It’s probably because exploring different cultures, places, cuisines, people, etc., makes them happy.

    At the end of the day, all our struggles, all our desires, and all our pursuits seem to be aimed at the same goal – happiness.

    This reminds me of a popular quote that is often attributed to the late John Lennon.

    “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

    hands holding each other

    The Key To Happiness – Helping Others

    So, now that we have established that happiness is our constant and ultimate desire, the question arises, “How do you become happy?”

    After all, we know that life can be really unkind to us at times.

    We all know that life is full of challenges and failures, which can hamper our ability to be happy.

    So, how do you keep your spirits up?

    Well, truth be told, there are millions of ways you can make yourself happy.

    From the smallest of things to the biggest, there is no dearth of things that will put a smile on your face.

    But perhaps there is one way that we often don’t think about when it comes to making ourselves happy. And that is helping other people.

    people working for humanitarian aid

    Some of the greatest people throughout history have said that helping others is a sure-shot way to feel much better.

    For example, Confucius once said,

    “He who wishes to secure the good of others has already secured his own.”

    Another great example is a quote by H. Jackson Brown Jr.,

    “Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.”

    We’ve all had an experience where helping someone in need made us feel really warm and fuzzy on the inside.

    Many people even get teary-eyed when they do so.

    And yet, for some reason, helping others doesn’t even come to our minds when we are trying to figure out how to be happier!

    Maybe, that’s because we have learned that happiness can only come from selfish goals and desires.

    Whatever it is, you should always have a helping mindset because that’s what humanity is all about.

    We are all together in this journey of life.

    And by helping each other, we not only make other people’s lives easier, but we also feel genuinely happy about ourselves and our lives.

    In fact, even scientific studies have proved this!

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    Science Confirms It – Help People To Be Happy

    If you were wondering whether being helpful by nature can really make you happy, you are not alone.

    It seems like even scientists have pondered this.

    And many of them have conducted studies to see whether that’s possible.

    In one such study, researchers hooked up participants to an fMRI machine to scan the various regions of their brains.

    They were then given some money and asked what they would like to do with it. They could either keep it or donate it.

    In some cases, the donation was made on their behalf.

    In all three cases, it was observed that the participants’ pleasure-related centers in their brains were activated.

    But what was really amazing was that the pleasure centers became more activated when they gave voluntarily. For reference, these centers also light up while eating one’s favorite food or while having sex.

    This study shows that the act of giving might be hardwired in the brain. This explains the warm glow you feel when you help someone out.

    And you definitely can’t deny that such acts make our lives more meaningful and fulfilling.

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    How You Can Enhance Your Happiness By Helping Others

    So, now comes the question: how do you help others?

    Do you just start living a completely selfless life where other people are always your top priority? Or do you try and create a balance between your goals and giving?

    Well, the latter sounds the most logical, doesn’t it?

    After all, you also have a life to live and dreams to fulfill.

    And if you keep giving away all your time, money, and energy, you might soon start feeling resentful.

    Yes, helping others too much can have the opposite effect at times.

    With that in mind, let’s see how you can start giving to enhance your happiness.

    1) Give Your Time

    When it comes to giving, most people only think about giving away money.

    While that can definitely help others, sometimes, what the other person needs is your time.

    For example, if one of your cousins is feeling lonely due to a recent breakup, you could try and spend more time with them. You could show them that you are there for them if they need to talk. You could even offer to take them on a weekend getaway to make them feel better!

    2) Combine Your Skills With The Needs of Others

    There are millions of people you could help.

    But how about matching the needs of others with your skills and interests?

    For example, you can offer your talents as services in return for a small fee. Say, writing articles for a local charity. In this case, you would be giving much more than you receive. So, not only will you be able to help other people, but you would also be able to look after your interests.

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    3) Donate Money To Transparent Organizations

    If you do want to donate your money, give it to organizations that are genuinely doing good for the community.

    It pains me to say this, but there are many shady people trying to loot others in the name of charity. So, make sure you do your research before giving out any money.

    4) Do Small Acts of Kindness

    Helping people doesn’t always have to be about big gestures.

    Sometimes, it’s the little things that matter more.

    Even such tiny acts can make you happy. So, hold the door at a store for elderly people, give a homeless person something to eat, give an unexpected compliment to a friend, let someone cut in front of you in line, let someone else take that parking spot, and so on!

    we can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone

    5) Be Kind To People

    Kindness costs you nothing.

    And yet, it can make a world of difference in other people’s lives.

    Imagine a barista having a really bad day and then you talk to them kindly and appreciate them for their effort. Your words could actually turn their whole day around!

    The same goes for everybody else. Your parents, siblings, teachers, colleagues, friends, etc., could all use more kindness from your side.

    6) Donate Unused Items

    We all have tons and tons of stuff in our homes that we never use.

    And yet, for some reason, we keep hoarding them!

    If you take the time to go through your stuff, you will realize that you could donate a lot of it. This would not only help you declutter but it would also make a difference in other people’s lives.

    7) Donate Blood

    This is an important one, especially if you happen to have a rare blood type.

    Your regular donations could literally save lives. And you are not harmed in any way whatsoever! Imagine living with the knowledge that your good deed is helping so many people and their loved ones.

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    How Helping Others Makes You Happy

    Finally, let’s understand what is it about helping other people that gives rise to that warm glow inside you.

    There could be various reasons for this. Let’s take a look.

    1) It Builds Gratitude

    When you help others, you might be reminded of how truly blessed you are.

    You realize that you have so many things that other people can only dream of.

    This creates a sense of gratitude in your heart.

    With a smile on your face, you can’t help but thank the universe for giving you everything you have and also the opportunity to make a positive change in other people’s lives.

    2) It Boosts Self-Esteem

    This one is pretty self-explanatory.

    When you help others, you feel good about yourself. Your sense of self-worth increases. And you get a feeling that you are indeed a valuable member of society.

    This is why it is said that if you are suffering from depression or lack of self-esteem, you should actively try and do some selfless deeds.

    As mentioned above, this activates the pleasure centers in your brain and you end up feeling much better about your life.

    happiness quote 6

    3) It Enhances Human Connection

    Let’s face it.

    Human connection is on the decline in our modern world.

    With the rise of social media and other digital technologies, our real-life interactions and connections are deteriorating.

    This obviously makes you feel miserable.

    However, if you dedicate some portion of your time to helping others, this can be reversed. You get to meet people and hear their stories. You get to have meaningful conversations. And you also feel like you are reconnecting to the human race itself.

    4) It Can Transform You Into A Better Person

    Giving is a positive act.

    It makes a real change in other people’s lives.

    Making this a big part of who you are can transform you into a much better person. It can make you aware of the ground reality of the world. It can remind you that there is no use running after endless or superficial dreams because those do not bring true happiness to you.

    You also start living a more selfless life. This change in perspective and behavior can transform you into a much better version of yourself.

    And when you grow old and look back at your life, you will be proud of what you managed to accomplish in your life.

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