Giving to others increases self-realization, life satisfaction and many markers of physical health.
Doing good deeds for others makes you feel good, and researchers are finding out why. According to a study conducted by the University of British Columbia, people with high anxiety levels experience greater relationship satisfaction and less social avoidance when they do good deeds like taking a friend to lunch, opening a door for a stranger or donating to charity. Subjects also experienced significant increases in positive moods.
A psychology professor at the University of California has studied happiness for more than two decades. She maintains that people who practice random acts of kindness experience more happiness over time than people who do not.
Acts of kindness are believed to foster a sense of emotional warmth, thanks to the release of oxytocin, a powerful hormone. When the body produces oxytocin, more nitric oxide is released into the bloodstream. This chemical dilates the blood vessels, leading to a decrease in blood pressure. The result is better cardiovascular health and an increased feeling of happiness.
Research also shows that giving to others increases self-realization, life satisfaction and many markers of physical health. People who perform kind acts live longer, experience less depression and see an increase in overall well-being.
If you want to boost your overall health, practice random acts of kindness. Spread the love by doing some of these suggestions:
- Smile at strangers.
- Write thank you notes to people for whom you are grateful.
- Add a few extra coins to the vending machine or parking meter.
- Pay for the groceries or toll of the person in line behind you.
- Give genuine compliments freely, instead of just thinking them.
- Listen with interest when you ask someone “how are you?”
- Make a donation of a car, clothing, household goods or other objects to your favorite charity.
- Leave your favorite book behind in a public space with a kind note to the next reader.
- Visit an animal shelter and give the animals special attention.
- When eating out, pay the tab for a stranger.
- Put $15 on a random gas pump.
- Leave pre-packaged snacks or bottles of water for your letter carrier on a hot day.
- Prepare nutritious meals or sack lunches for homeless people in your community.
- Send a friend or loved one an anonymous gift in the mail.
- Donate an hour of your skills or professional services to an organization or individual in need.
- Make military care packages.
- Clean up a neighborhood space, like a park or bus stop.
- Cut your neighbor’s yard when doing your own.