Mahatma Gandhi once said that “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” When we help or give to someone else, it often brings more joy and richness into our own lives! A 2006 study conducted by Jorge Moll and
colleagues at the National Institutes of Health revealed that when people give to charities, regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust are activated, creating a “warm glow” effect. Researchers also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.” These findings show that making someone’s day can, in turn, help boost your energy!
In 2010, the “Do Good, Live Well Survey” was given to 4,500 adult Americans. The survey findings showed that 41% of Americans, on average, devoted 100 hours per year to volunteer work. Of those Americans who volunteered, 68% reported that volunteering made them physically healthier, 89% stated that it “improved my sense of well-being,” and 73% conveyed that it “lowered my stress levels.”
Even just the planning process can, in and of itself, help cope with stress. By taking the attention off of yourself and your own thoughts and shifting it onto someone else, it help you to get out of your own head. Sometimes, when it comes to dealing with stress, we can be our own worst enemies. By making someone else smile, even just by doing the smallest thing, you feel an internal surge of strength knowing you possess the power to make a positive impact on the world.
There’s no need for anything in return, that sense of euphoria is better than any gift. Be in that moment. Remember how you feel at that exact time, and hold it with you all day. When an unexpected task is put on your plate, you receive a less than pleasant phone call, or someone just doesn’t go “as planned,” go back to that moment. Be in that moment. Breathe deeply and exhale the sounds of negative self-talk or doubt. Love yourself just as much as you give love to others. Let go of the stress and return to your life. Stress is never going to go away, but we CAN change how we cope with it.