“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
Fellow Philosophy Matters author, L, has recently decided that she is going to complete 27 acts of kindness for her 27th birthday. In the class I taught on living the good life, one thing that stood out is that research has shown we tend to be happier when we are doing things for other people.
This is by no means an ethical argument for altruism, rather, recent studies in positive psychology have tended to show that happier people do more for others, and doing more for others tends to make people happier, which can lead to a very positive circle of action. So what are three ways that being kind to others can actually matter for us?
1. Helping others makes us feel better
Endorphins in our brain light up when we help others. Similar to the “exercise high” that’s been widely publicized, our brains also tend to experience a “helping high.” The can ward off depression and help us be more positive about other things in our lives.
2. Helping others keeps us healthier
Research has shown that as we age, those who more often help others maintain their cognitive functions longer. Our brains literally stay healthier longer when we are helping others.
3. Helping others helps us live longer
Those who help others also tend to live longer.
Conclusion? Let’s all be selfish by getting out there and helping other people! Help out L and suggest an act of random kindness that she can do for her birthday, and then get out there and do it yourself, and let us know what the results were back here in the comments.