FACT: Doing Good Makes You Feel Happy
Have you ever heard of the so-called “do-good-feel-good phenomenon?” If not, here’s how it works.
When you do something good, you feel happier. A 2019 study revealed that performing acts of kindness – even to strangers – boosts happiness and well-being. So, let's say, you help an elderly cross the street. There's a part of you that feels genuinely happy because you know that you did an act of kindness to someone.
You Will Have Less Stress & Live Longer
That sensation is known as 'helper's high' and is produced when your brain releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals of the brain. When you do something good for someone else, your brain's pleasure centers light up, releasing endorphin and producing this high.
So when you feel incredible because of altruism, you are more likely to do a selfless act to get that “happiness high” again. The feeling is very similar to the “runner’s high” where the brain’s pleasure centers light up.
The high of helping others is comparable to the "runner's high" where the brain’s pleasure centers light up.
It’s basically like a cycle. This hit of “feeling good” is what pushes you to continue making more positive habits. A study published in 2013 showed that helping others increases life-expectancy due to reduced stress.
It's a positive spiral where the more you help others the less stressed you are, and the longer you live. And less stress means you feel good, and when you feel good, you do good.
The more you help others the less stressed you are, and the longer you live
10 Days of Doing Good is Proven to Increase Your Happiness
Happiness is 50 percent genetic, says University of Minnesota researcher David Lykken. What you do with the other half of the challenge depends largely on determination, psychologists agree.
Two studies show that doing good deeds makes us happy. So fill up your 50% with happiness.
In one of the studies in the Journal of Social Psychology researchers in Great Britain found that good deeds do in fact make people feel good—even when performed over as little as 10 days—and there may even be more benefits if you mix up your acts of kindness, as the novelty of doing good seems linked to happiness as well.
But kindness may have a longer, and even deeper effect on our happiness (according to the second study, published online in the Journal of Happiness Studies and conducted by researchers at Harvard Business School).
This study showed people in general felt happier when they were asked to remember a time they helped someone else or bought something for someone else—even happier than when they remembered buying something for themselves.
In other words, thinking about what you’ve given others – and not only what you’ve received - will motivate you to do good again and again.
Thinking back on how you have helped others in the past gives you a feeling of happiness even today.
Unfortunately, it works the other way around too.
Have you ever noticed that when you do something bad, you feel terrible? And when you feel awful, you are more likely to do something horrible to the people that surround you.
This is often when you get to a place that centers more around yourself or seeking pleasure.
This negativity, unfortunately, affects everyone. So, unhappy people will – intentionally or not – continue to do more negative behaviours.
So why continue to spread negativity to the world when you can spread positive vibes instead?
Having someone else to help or another greater purpose is proven better for your mental health.
Here are a few tips to get your started spreading happiness around you:
- Take your mum and grandma out for lunch.
- Send an email praising a friend of colleague who deserves recognition
Researchers also found that individuals in their mid-30s who rated helping others in their work as important, reported they were happier with their life when surveyed 30 years later.
- Donate food, clothing, or volunteer your time to help others
BMC Public Health journal has concluded that volunteering is also good for mental health. The review found that - along with improved well-being and life satisfaction – volunteering is also linked to decreased depression.
- Do something good for the environment (recycle, use eco, reuse).
- Help an animal.
These are just a few of the acts of kindness you can do.
We would love to hear your ideas in the comments below, so we can all share and be inspired.
Start your positive spiral of happiness today by making a good change to something or someone!