Are you considering whether you should invest your time being of service in your community? If you think helping others is a waste of time, let me tell you a hidden truth: Being of service to others is a key element to your long-term happiness.
Sounds counterintuitive? Not really once you understood how your life would change by changing other people’s lives. In this article, you’ll learn the top 5 benefits of helping others and how each benefit has a positive impact on your life.
If you’d like to get a taste of helping others, I’ve listed 10 new, simple ways to help you get started easily.
Grab a coffee (or tea) and let’s jump right in.
What Are The Benefits of Being of Service?
1. Increased Gratitude
Some of the volunteers I’ve met expressed that they feel more grateful for the small things often taken for granted after volunteering sessions.
When we’ve seen worse, humans tend to do the “downside comparison” — comparing ourselves with others below us.
The downside comparison makes us appreciate the tiny things life has to offer because others have it worse. Seeing the worse helps to unlock your gratitude perspective, opening your eyes to recognize the hidden blessings in your life.
Countless studies have shown that gratitude is strongly correlated with greater happiness and health. It turns out that grateful people tend to live a longer and happier life.
In short, helping others makes us feel more grateful for life, and grateful people have greater happiness.
2. Purpose in Life
“What’s your purpose in life?” is one of the most difficult questions that most people don’t have answers to. You might think ‘earning more money,’ or ‘getting married’ is your life purpose.
But the truth is that your goals are not your purpose in life.
Your life purpose is the meaning and reason behind each goal you’ve set. It is the reason you get up in the morning.
One way to gain purpose in life is by being of service to others.
When you are venturing to new places and helping others, you may notice some hidden issues that have never crossed your mind before such as suffering refugees, dying gardens, abandoned pets, and more. Once you have seen how these issues affect other human beings, you might strongly feel to ‘do something about it.’
From there onwards, you might have discovered a new purpose in life that you would otherwise not know if you didn’t offer to help.
Long story short, being kind to others offers you opportunities to create a purpose in life.
3. Decreased Loneliness
Do you know that almost half of Americans reported sometimes or always feeling lonely and feeling left out? Loneliness is affecting so many of us that it’s rightly being called an epidemic. It’s also because it’s as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and it’s worse than obesity.
The root cause of loneliness is not having meaningful in-person social interactions regularly, such as having a deep conversation with a friend or spending time with family members.
As you have guessed it, the key to healing loneliness is to have a group of people that you are deeply connected with.
The good news is that being of service to the people in your community is a great way to build meaningful connections. Look for nearby volunteering opportunities that resonate with your values. Most likely, you will meet other volunteers that share the same values and it’ll be easier for you to connect with them.
4. Treat Yourself Kinder
“How you treat others is a reflection of how you treat yourself” is a quote that received a lot of attention on Instagram last year.
This quote explains that when you’re kind to yourself, you’ll be kind to others as well.
Although you can’t control how you were treated, you can control how you treat yourself and others. If you’ve been treating yourself in disempowering ways, you can change by being kind to others first.
As your day goes by, notice little moments where you can do random acts of kindness like picking up a wallet for a stranger, opening the door for someone, or smiling to a passerby.
Run these little experiments and you’ll notice that we’re all deeply connected.
Helping others help you and helping yourself help others.
5. Stronger Love Relationships
One of our most prized relationships is marriage. In America, about 61 million couples have said, “I do,” committed to a lifelong relationship full of love, joy, and friendship. Except, it doesn’t work out that way for 40 – 50% of married couples.
Half of the marriages fail, end up in divorce, or devolving into dysfunction. Worried that the unprecedented rates of marriages would negatively impact children, John Gottman, a psychological researcher, studied what made relationships work.
The result of his 4-decade long study shows that kindness is what glues couples together. Kindness turns out to be the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage.
Showing kindness to your spouse makes them feel they’re cared for, understood, and validated — feel loved. The lesson from the research is crystal clear: If you want to have a healthy, life-long relationship, exercise kindness early and often.
Think of the small acts of generosity you can do for your spouse, like buying little gifts, showing them compliments, or giving one another massage now and then.
What are the small acts of kindness can you do today for your loved one?
10 New, Simple Ways To Be Of Service To Others
Here are some small ideas to help you get started.
- Listen and understand
- Say, “I love you” more to your loved ones
- Handwrite a thank-you note to someone who has helped you
- Invite them over for a home-cooked meal
- Ask, “How can I help?”
- Lend a book that might help them
- Teach someone
- Call a lonely person
- Join communities with a cause
- Initiate a conversation with a shy person
A Take-Home Message
Being of service to others is not a selfless act. It is a two-way street where everyone’s a winner.
You receive a lot more by helping others. Your gratitude level rises, you have a purpose in life, you’ll form meaningful connections, you’ll treat yourself kinder, and boost your relationships. In short, you’ll live a happier and meaningful life.
You don’t have to force yourself to do something big. Start small and use some of the ways above to get started. A simple question like, “How can I help?” immediately shifts you to be kind to others.
What is it that you can do this week to start exercising kindness?