As I read stories of positivity, kindness, compassion, people putting their life on the line, sometimes dying to save another person, people standing up for strangers, protecting animals, the earth is the common thread to all of this is altruism. Altruism is a fancy word to describe service and sacrifice to others. VeryWell Mind definition is “Altruism is the unselfish concern for other people—doing things simply out of a desire to help, not because you feel obligated to out of duty, loyalty, or religious reasons. It involves acting out of concern for the well-being of other people.”
Gandhi said “The best way to find yourself is to lost yourself in the service of others.”
Seems like altruism is a powerful force. A change agent for the person and for others. When you help others it boosts your immune system, your brain chemicals of positivity get firing, it reduces your stress and can reduce, sometimes remove, feelings of negativity and and anger. The simple action of doing something that will help another person sends ripples of positivity all over the place.
An article in Behavioral Health Systems states:
- Helping Others Feels Good – Helping others promotes a rush of endorphins in the brain brought about by positive physiological changes. Offering help distracts us from our own problems, allowing us to participate in meaningful activity.
- Brings a Sense of Belonging – Part of the enjoyment of helping others is that it makes you part of a social network, which leads to a sense of belonging. Face-to-face activities meant to help someone else can also aid in reducing the “helper’s” feelings of loneliness or isolation.
- Helps Keep Things in Perspective – When you help someone in need, it often provides a sense of perspective to help you realize how lucky you are. It can enable you to have a more positive outlook on your life and what you have to be grateful for.
- Helps Make the World a Happier Place – Helping others can be contagious! Your good deed may encourage someone else to perform their own act of kindness.
- The More You Do For Others, The More You Do For Yourself – Studies show that the benefits of helping others can last long after the act itself, providing kindness memories to be drawn upon when you need to be lifted up.”
In an episode of The Happiness Lab” titled the war for kindness Jamil Zaki a professor at Stanford shared that in the United States empathy is on the decline. He also describes how we can learn to become empathic. Yes we can increase our empathy muscle! He also shares that “People who experience a lot of empathy also tend to be happier, less stressed, and experience less depression. They find it easier to make new friends and to maintain important relationships like their marriages. Seventh graders who are able to understand what others feel are also better able to survive seventh grade, which is not easy.”
“Ah kindness. What a simple way to tell another struggling soul that there is love to be found in this world.” A. A. Malee
I know many people are struggling. Emotionally, physically, financially. People are stressed and drained with little to give. I recently talking with a teacher I work with who is positive and filled with grit. s\She shared she has never felt so drained in her life. I get it because I have felt that way.
What has helped me, and can help you, is to start building your empathy. Start taking your altruism and doing something for someone else just because. Even when it feels like you don’t have it in you give it a go. My personal research is when I am feeling low, drained, and stressed when I take an action that benefits another human I feel lighter, happier. My energy increases and I just feel good. I feel better equipped to deal with the stress in my life.
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that flood the world.” Desmond Tutu
It is so important you are good and kind to yourself to the best of your ability. Include doing for others as part of care for yourself. Not only will it show someone else that they matter, it will help you to see how you matter too.
May your altruism be with you💜
Here is the link to The Happiness Lab episode I mentioned🌟