One of the greatest pleasures in life is giving back. There are times in life when things didn’t go your way. Maybe you’ve lost a job, or you’ve experienced a major setback like a divorce, but life wasn’t kind.
You remember these times because it’s when your friends and family gathered around you and supported you. The strength from others helped pull you through some of your darkest days, and now you get a chance to be a light to someone else in darkness.
Perhaps your struggles were there to show you the power of giving back and how it impacts you, as those who give back seem happier than those who focus on themselves.
It’s More Blessed to Give
Reaching out your hand to someone who might have fallen on hard times not only helps that person, but it also helps you. The giver is just as blessed as the receiver. Did you know that there’s scientific evidence that you feel happier when you give back to others?
According to a recent OnePoll survey explained by the Good News Network, many numerous mental and physical health benefits from helping others. People tend to be more eager to help out during the holiday season. However, there are needs year-round, and it’s essential to be sensitive to those needs.
The study found that three out of four people believe that the blessed person will pay it forward if they do a good deed. These days, a new trend is to pay for the person behind you in line at a fast-food establishment. However, while this is a kind gesture, you should consider if this is the best way to give back.
The person in line already has money to pay for their food, or they wouldn’t be there. While it’s kind to think of them, there are people in every town across this country who have no food. Can you imagine the joy on their faces and the contentment in their stomach if you gave to them instead?
The same study listed above also found that the average person gives around $400 to benevolent foundations during the holidays. Once you hit adulthood, you don’t need expensive gifts and stacks of presents under the tree. However, helping someone else is more of a blessing than you could ever imagine, and it increases happiness during the season.
The Universe Repays You for Kindness
While you should never give to someone with the hopes of getting something back, karma is the bank account the Universe keeps in your name. Whether good or bad, every deed you do adds to or subtracts from your karmic debts. Even the Bible teaches about the importance of giving and reaping a harvest.
If you grow a garden every year, you know the importance of planting and tending to these plants. What happens if you plant summer squash in your gardens? You expect squash to come up when the plant matures. It would be foolish to plant squash and expect green beans to appear.
The same thing happens with karma. If you put goodness into the atmosphere, goodness will come back to you. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why it feels so amazing to help others because all that kindness comes right back to you.
There’s just something about living a good life that makes your journey on earth more bearable. The Universe is not a monster that’s out to get you, yet it makes sure that you will reap what you sow.
The Neurological Benefits of Giving
Have you ever worked in a soup kitchen? Volunteering for a charitable cause such as this helps you to practice gratitude in your life. Some people believe that the folks in these places have brought poverty on themselves, but nothing could be further from the truth.
If you ever worked in one of these establishments for just a few hours, it would change your entire life. You would find people from all walks of life who have impossible circumstances. There will be children as young as infants, and people in their golden years, as no one can escape the grasp of time and chance.
Looking into their eyes as you give them nourishment for their bodies does something to you. It changes you and makes you feel different than when you went in. The feelings that you experience are pure joy, as when you help someone in need, you become a better human being.
Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky coauthored an article on Oschner Health. She stated that when you do acts of kindness towards others, it gives you an incredible feeling of happiness down deep in your soul. It also helps to decrease anxiety and depression.
There are both short-term and long-term effects to benevolent actions. She further states that studies show that these actions cause neurological changes in your brain. According to research published in the National Library of Medicine, there’s a direct link to acts of giving or humanity and a boost in the brain’s reward system.
The researchers found that the mesolimbic reward system kicks into overdrive when folks help others. Furthermore, the analysis discovered that giving to charity boosted the community feelings and reduced emotions like loneliness and despair.
Five Actionable Ways You Can Give Back
You know that you need to give back and how important it’s to help others, but you might not know where or how to do such a task. There are charitable organizations all over the country begging for help, and it’s safe to say there’s some right in your local area.
While donating cash is essential, volunteering is a safer option. When giving cash, make sure that most of the money you donate towards outreach and not paying high salaries to executives. One such organization that does a phenomenal job helping homeless folks is the New York City Relief Bus.
For 25 years, volunteers from around the country have come and spent a week on the streets in New York. They dedicate their services to feed, clip fingernails, give haircuts, and minister to those that have fallen on hard times.
Volunteers stay in dorms and donate ten hours a day to the service of others. What a life-changing experience to see first-hand the people affected by poverty and homelessness in your world. This is just one example of a great organization that gives almost 100 percent back to those who need it most.
While you may not have a week out of your life to help such a cause, there are things you can do in your neighborhood. Here are the easiest ways to give back to those closest to home.
1. Work in a Food Pantry or Soup Kitchen
There are food pantries and soup kitchens everywhere. These places cater to those who’ve fallen on hard times. You can donate your time, money, and other resources to help those in need.
It’s estimated, according to Kids Can Make a Difference, that over 13 million kids go to bed hungry every night. While you can’t tackle the entire problem, you can help.
2. Volunteer at a Nursing Home
A nursing home or extended care center can be scary and lonely for people. The worker tries to have programs to help them get through the hours of boredom. They always need volunteers to help with social activities and things to help engage them with one another.
When it comes to feeling happiness and joy, you will feel a surge of glee when you watch these elderly folks come to life when you ask about their journey. Sometimes all people need is someone to care and listen to them.
3. Do Random Acts of Kindness
Random acts of kindness are things you do for no other reason than to make someone’s day. You might cut the lawn for your neighbor, take dinner to someone who just got out of the hospital, or even pays for the person at the grocery store ahead of you. It’s whatever you feel led to do.
Listen to your inner voice, as many people had felt unction to do or give something when it was just what the person needed.
4. Donate To Someone in Need
While local organizations cater to helping those in need, many people don’t call these agencies or fall short on the requirements. Donating time, money, food, or furniture to someone who needs it can help not only them but it will also help you. True happiness comes when you give back and support those who genuinely have fallen on hard times.
5. Help at Animals Shelters
Animals are always in need, and local shelters struggle with overcrowded conditions. Whether you’re helping wildlife by cleaning the oceans or walking the dogs at your local pound, it all counts as acts of kindness. Helping animals is another way to help you feel good and give back.
Final Thoughts on How You Find Happiness When You Give Back
If you’ve ever given back to help someone in need, then you know all about the warm fuzzy feeling it gives you. Studies have proven that those acts of kindness give your brains a boost of chemicals that makes you feel good. Sometimes it’s effortless to be selfish and absorbed in your life as you don’t feel like you have enough time to get everything done.
Oh, but the joy that comes from giving is better than any bonus check, vacation, or gift that money could buy. In Matthew 25:35, the Bible states that “When I needed food, you fed me, and when I needed water, you gave me something to drink, and you took me in when I was a stranger to you.” Perhaps, the greatest commandment to love your neighbor as yourself is key to true happiness in this life.
When you feel like your life is overwhelming and keeping a roof over your head is a monumental task, help those who have nothing. Not only will it help to reduce those overwhelming feelings, but it will give you joy and happiness that only comes from pitching in and giving back. Plus, it’s a significant boost to gratitude when the things you take for granted each day are the same items others pray for.