Benefits of selflessness
"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."
- Albert Einstein
One of the quickest and easiest ways we can elevate our mood and sense of purpose is to help others. It does not matter what we do, as long as we are doing it to benefit others. It can be as simple as holding the door open for the customer behind us, to something more substantial like donating our time or money to our favorite causes. It feels good to help others. It's a win-win situation where everyone benefits. Science even tells us helping others leads to less depression, increased happiness, decreased stress levels and improved self-esteem. A convincing reason to be more giving toward others is that there are so many benefits!
One of the great benefits in being of service to others is how we are rewarded with the happy feel good chemicals dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. The act of giving has shown to activate the reward center of the brain, which releases endorphins, creating what has been termed the helper's high. It's similar to how the runner's high works, just less sweaty. While the pleasure we receive from helping others is great, it does not compare to the pleasure we are able to give others through our selfless acts. We also create stronger relationships too!
Think of all the people and organizations you have helped out in some way. Think of all the smiles you have provided others due to your kindness and generosity. It feels good to give and help others since we know it makes others feel good too. Again, win-win. There will be times when boundaries may need to be established with family members or friends. While it is important to help our loved ones, it is also important to make sure we are prioritizing our own self-care. It's tougher to take care of others if we are not taking care of ourselves. Self-care isn't selfish. It's self respect.
If we are doing it right, we have a healthy balance of self-care and selflessness. The same way we cannot do everything on ourselves and require our own help at times, everyone else does too. Strong families, communities and organizations are made up of people taking care of each other. It should never have to get to a point where everyone has to fend for themselves. The more we are able to live and work in environments where people are looking after one another, the more we provide opportunities for everyone to thrive. It's starts with selflessness.
HelpGuide: Volunteering and its Surprising Benefits
Psychology Today: In Helping Others, You Help Yourself
Cleveland Clinic: Why Giving Is Good for Your Health