You’ve heard us talk about the cycle of good….Think Good, Do Good, Feel Good, right? Well this Huffington Post article gives 10 great examples of how thinking and doing good lead to happiness, and we all want more happiness. Read on.
1. Helping Others Will Actually Make You Feel Great
Giving back has an effect on your body. Studies show that when people donated to charity, the mesolimbic system, the portion of the brain responsible for feelings of reward, was triggered. The brain also releases feel-good chemicals and spurs you to perform more kind acts — something psychologists call “helper’s high.”
2. Giving Can Give You A Self-Esteem Boost
Heard enough from your inner critic? Consider donating some of your time to a cause you’re passionate about. People who volunteer have been found to have higher self-esteem and overall well-being. Experts explain that as feelings of social connectedness increase, so does your self-esteem. The benefits of volunteering also depend on your consistency. So, the more regularly you volunteer, the more confidence you’ll be able to cultivate.
3. You’ll Have Stronger Friendships
Being a force for good in a friend’s life can help build a lasting bond. When you help others, you give off positive vibes, which can rub off on your peers and improve your friendships, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health. Both parties will contribute to maintaining a mutually beneficial dynamic.
4. You Become A Glass Half-Full Type Person
Having a positive impact on someone else could help you change your own outlook and attitude. Experts say that performing acts of kindness boosts your mood and ultimately makes you more optimistic and positive.
5. Helping Others Will Make You Feel Like You Can Take On The World
Helping someone out can leave you feeling rewarded and fulfilled. People who participate in volunteer work feel more empowered than those who do not. According to a survey by the United Health Group, 96 percent of people who volunteered over the last 12 months said volunteering enriches their sense of purpose.
6. You’ll Feel A Sense Of Belonging
Whether with a large group of people in a volunteer organization, or just between two friends exchanging words of advice, helping people creates a feeling of community. “Face-to-face activities such as volunteering at a drop-in center can help reduce loneliness and isolation,” according to the Mental Health Foundation.
7. Giving Will Help You Find Your Inner Peace
If you have a lot that’s wearing you down, giving back could help clear your head. In a study by United Health Group, 78 percent of people who volunteered over a 12-month period said they felt that their charitable activities lowered their stress. They were also more calm and peaceful than people who didn’t participate in volunteer work.
8. It Will Make You Feel Thankful
Helping others gives you perspective on your own situation, and teaches you to be appreciative of what you have. The Global One Foundation describes volunteering as a way to “promote a deeper sense of gratitude as we recognize more of what is already a blessing/gift/positive in our life.”
9. It Gives You A Sense Of Renewal
Helping others can teach you to help yourself. If you’ve been through a tough experience or just have a case of the blues, the “activism cure” is a great way get back to feeling like yourself, according to research from the University of Texas. “Volunteer work improves access to social and psychological resources, which are known to counter negative moods,” the study read.
10. Finally, Helping Others Will Spur Others To Pay It Forward And Keep The Cycle Of Happiness Going
Kindness is contagious, according to a study by researchers at University of California, Los Angeles, and University of Cambridge and University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom. “When we see someone else help another person it gives us a good feeling,” the study states, “Which in turn causes us to go out and do something altruistic ourselves.”
Asia Ford finished last in a Louisville, Kentucky 10K run, but photos of a city police officer holding her hand for miles, and helping her cross the finish line, are winning the hearts of people across the world.
More than halfway into the race, Ford had trouble breathing. Paramedics checked her out, but she refused to stop. The mother of three had lost over 200 pounds and trained for months preparing for the race. She wanted to inspire her children, and so insisted on finishing the run.
That’s when Lt. Aubrey Gregory of the Louisville Metro Police Department stepped in and took her hand.
”He was like my angel,” Ford told WAVE-TV. “He came at the moment I really needed him.”
Lt. Gregory stayed with Ford every moment of the last two miles to the finish line. He told WHAS-TV her determination gave him “tingly goosebumps all over.” He said, ”Watching her cross the finish line, I felt it all over. It was a great moment and I’m glad she let me be a part of it.”
Within hours, thousands more would experience the triumphant moment—when Ford raised her arms in victory as she, her son and Lt. Gregory crossed the finish line.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer tweeted the pictures online. Daniel Carlton, Jr., who snapped the photo above, got tens of thousands of “likes” after he put it on Facebook.
Ford told WHAS-TV she struggled with her weight for years, reaching nearly 500 pounds. Her husband at the time lost a limb to diabetes. She didn’t want her kids to wind up with health problems like theirs. She started working out, losing weight and getting in better shape to inspire them.
Two days after the run, the city of Louisville is honoring Mrs. Ford and Lt. Gregory at city hall for inspiring people around the world.
Ford summed it up with her own words of inspiration in a Facebook post after the race: ”This 6.2 miles meant more to me than any race ever, so my message today is, You don’t have to be 1st, AS LONG AS U DON’T GIVE UP AND U FINISH…YOU ARE A WINNER.”
HULL — For years, Jonathan Bloch has been the Drowned Hogs’ top fund-raiser for Wellspring, bringing in thousands of dollars to the nonprofit social service agency in its annual dash-into-the-frigid-ocean-for-cash event — and he’s still not old enough to vote, buy alcohol, or rent a car.
“He’s been raising money for us since he was little; he’s a dedicated, dedicated young philanthropist,” said grateful Wellspring spokeswoman Monica McKinney.
Bloch, a 17-year-old who lives in Hull and is a junior at Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, is not the only young person making an impact beyond his years. He’s one of many young volunteers in the south suburbs who are dedicating time and energy to community service.
In Weymouth, 16-year-old Matthew Bryer devotes hours each week on Safe Soldier, which sends care packages to military men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq. He started the organization when he was in sixth grade and his older brother was serving in the Army in Iraq.
“He said toiletries were pretty hard to come by, and that’s been our main goal – toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, hand sanitizer,” Bryer said. He estimates he’s sent more than 150 boxes overseas, filled with close to 10,000 items — and his family’s front hall is filled with more waiting to be shipped.
”At first it was to help my brother, but then I saw the difference it was making when I got letters and thank-you notes. It was a good feeling to know you were making a difference,” he said.
Weymouth High School, where Bryer is a junior, wants all of its students to experience that satisfaction, says associate principal Peter Haviland. The school requires 10 hours of community service each academic year, and has partnered with the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation to “celebrate volunteerism” as more than an obligation, Haviland said.
As part of the effort, the high school’s 2,003 students delivered more than a ton of food to the Weymouth Food Pantry in December and had recorded 26,011 volunteer hours as of mid-February, Haviland said. And the school and the Patriots recognized Bryer and 40 other Weymouth High students for their outstanding volunteerism in a December pep rally attended by former Patriot Kevin Faulk and some of the football team’s cheerleaders.
While most high schools encourage students to volunteer, a relatively small number of districts make it a requirement. Those schools include Avon, Dedham, Milton, Pembroke, Randolph, Rockland, Scituate, Silver Lake Regional, South Shore Charter Public School in Norwell, and Weymouth.
At South Shore Charter, the requirement starts in kindergarten, where students are asked to participate in five acts of community service, according to executive director Alicia Savage. By the time they’re seniors, students are required to do 40 hours of community service each year, she said.
“We don’t check [the hours]; it’s completely on the honor system,” Savage said. “But usually we find out they’ve done more than required. Community service is an integral part of our school culture.”
Sixteen-year-old Jessica Guerrier, a junior at the charter school who lives in Whitman, has volunteered at Pine Street Inn in Boston and at a nursing home in Dedham. But she said most of her volunteer work is with young children, both in the elementary grades of South Shore Charter and at her church, the Haitian Assembly of God in Brockton. She also helps take care of a youngster with autism, an experience that has made her want to study occupational therapy as a career, she said.
Randolph High School requires students to give at least 60 hours of community service over their four years, and new football coach Keith Ford is helping both his team and the cheerleaders find meaningful ways to reach that goal. Starting this month, students will teach technology to seniors citizens at the local senior center or library, lead free football clinics for local youth, and take part in a fitness forum for Randolph elementary school students.
Seventeen-year-old Lanajah Simon, a sophomore cheerleader at Randolph High who hopes to become a psychologist, said she’s getting involved in the projects because she wants to give back to the community. “We’re going to show that we’re not just taking and taking,” she said.
Sixteen-year-old Brianna Lopes, a junior and cheerleader, said she’s excited about being a role model for younger students. Football players Brent White, a sophomore, and Emmanuel Neal, a junior, also said they want to be role models and to give back to their community and, as Neal said, “let them know that we care about them as much as they care about us.”
Milton High School started requiring students to do community service in the 1996-1997 school year “to develop and instill in all students a sense of citizenship, community and the responsibilities that good citizens demonstrate by giving back to the community,” the student handbook says.
Rebecca Simms, a senior at Milton High, agrees that she benefits from her volunteer work as much as she contributes. She has volunteered at the Museum of Science in Boston, a nursing home in Natick, and now the emergency room at Milton Hospital — and has gained valuable skills that will help her when she studies nursing at the University of Massachusetts Boston next year, she said.
“I would definitely keep doing it, even if there wasn’t a requirement,” she said. “I think it’s really important to volunteer and help people who need help. I think it’s a good way to spend my time instead of doing something that’s not as productive. And it’s fun.”
Three students at Notre Dame Academy in Hingham provided fun for their entire school with their community service initiative. Freshman Abby Rouleau of Hingham — whose uncle Dr. Frank Duggan spends most of his year volunteering in Third World countries — and seniors Hannah Paradise of Scituate and Marissa Gildea of Cohasset led their school in collecting 2,779 coats for needy people as part of a competition sponsored by Mix 104.1 radio station.
Notre Dame Academy won, and the prize was a January concert at the school by English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.
“It was just amazing,” Rouleau said of both the concert and the coat drive. “I’d come home some days, and I would have bags of coats on my front door from my neighbors. At school, people would come in with bags every morning. We had so many coats, the whole front foyer would fill up. It was just crazy. We are a small school, but clearly we can make a difference.”
For his part, Bloch has been named a Hull Hero for work in making a difference in his community and beyond. He started raising money for Wellspring when he was 10; he raised about $700 that first year and is now up to about $25,000, he said. He has also collected soccer balls to send to children in Iraq and Afghanistan, part of a Connecticut-based effort.
Between school and sports — he plays lacrosse and wrestles — and activities like debate, model United Nations, and the school newspaper, Bloch said he spends about an hour a day writing e-mails for his volunteer work.
“Basically I write to everyone I know to find someone to sponsor me,” he said. “And then I spend a lot of time writing thank-you notes.”