We live in an era where loneliness is an undiscussed pandemic because of the prevailing belief that we need to take care of ourselves. We are bombarded with many self-help books where we are taught how to solve our own problems, get our own success, and change for our own benefit. There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve oneself and be a better version. However, the more we make ourselves the center of the universe, the lonelier we will get.
Helping others promote happiness
Of course, if some guilt-tripped you into giving, it would exact a feeling of happiness. When you voluntarily provide your time, money, and energy for the good of others, it will return a feeling you couldn’t get anywhere else in the world. Research shows that helping others is connected to an individual’s well-being. As the Chinese saying goes, if you want to be happy for an hour, take a nap; a day, go fishing; a year, inherit a fortune; a lifetime, help others.
It creates a sense of community and gratitude
There are a lot of opportunities in our community that you can partake in.
- Visit senior citizens living in a residential care home: Senior citizens left to the care of social workers can feel lonely and forgotten. Life happens, and there will be instances when their family barely had the time to visit. Hence, you’ll never know how your presence can put a smile on their faces. You can tell stories, read books, and paint with them. If they can still stand up and walk, go outdoors and watch the trees and sky with them. You can witness the scenery quietly or listen to them tell their life stories. They will feel heard, and you will also get valuable lessons.
- Give to charity: Earning a paycheck to spend on something on sale does not exactly give a lasting feeling of satisfaction. The thing gets old, and your excitement wears off. When you give to charity, you help send a kid to school or fund an NGO struggling to make ends meet.
- Lend a hand to people with cancer: Before facing people with cancer, you must prepare yourself. Fatigue, hair loss, and weight loss are expected, so you have to learn how to start and manage the conversation. Think from their perspective and try to figure out how they would want to be comforted. Offer to do chores they couldn’t. Give gifts. Some people don’t want to wallow on the thought that they have cancer, so treat them the way you’d treat a friend. Discuss topics that are non-cancer-related. Or simply be a listening ear. You’ll never know how much time you are helping add to that person’s life. Happiness can be medicating.
- Do some cleaning or cleanup drives: Beautify your community by clearing it off the clutter and litter.
- Support local businesses: When you buy from large corporations, you help them get richer. But when you buy from a local shop, you help support a living. Thus, try purchasing the local hand-made shampoo bars from your neighbor. Dine at a nearby restaurant or order a cake from your local dessert shop affected by the pandemic. If you do not have extra cash to spare, you can help them out by posting a review on social media or spreading the word out.
Not only will the people appreciate the help, but it will also instill a sense of community. As you extend help to others and witness their situations, you get to go outside your own bubble and be grateful for all the things you used to take for granted.
Lending a hand gives a sense of purpose
In an article published in The Journal of Positive Psychology, researchers examined the relationship between helping and a sense of purpose. They ask 400 participants how frequently they engage in altruistic pursuits and how purposeful their lives feel. Those that pursued philanthropic activities reported a greater sense of purpose and meaning in their lives.
In today’s age and time, when we usually do things for our achievements, investing in others can give great returns that other endeavors cannot give. Find time to help someone or take part in a good cause in your community. Time can easily be wasted on social media, money on material things, and energy on negative thinking. But when you dedicate your time, money, and energy to others, not only will you enrich their lives, but you will also enrich yours.