I call this strategy: Give Help, Get Happy. Here it is: For a quick and meaningful way to increase your social connection and improve your mood—Help people.
Helping other people is truly a win-win. By making time to assist someone else, even with something as seemingly small as “a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment,” it creates the possibility of promoting positive thoughts and feelings in another person. You know how important thoughts and feelings are. Why not help give people something positive to focus on? It might be just the thing they need to brighten their day and help their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors take a turn for the better.
And helping others can help you as well. Research shows a “Helper’s High”:
“a feeling, following selfless service to others, of elation, exhilaration and increased energy, then a period of calm and serenity…said to be similar to that following intense physical exercise.”
By volunteering and engaging in acts of kindness, you can experience improvements in your own mental and physical well-being: lower stress levels, increased self-esteem, greater happiness and satisfaction, lower blood pressure, and longer life. Just make sure you give in ways that feel doable and don’t cause you to burnout!
Give help to others, get happy endorphins and less stress for your body and brain. That’s excellent.
So: To feel better fast—focus on helping someone else! Your kind deeds really could turn a person’s life around, and may just turn your own life around as well. Here are some ideas:
AWARENESS: How could you schedule time to help people during your days and weeks? What specific activities could you do to assist others—that feel doable rather than stressful for you? In what ways might helping others benefit you?
ACTION: Do at least 1 thing this week to help someone else. Look at the list above for ideas to inspire you and then take action—start now. I’m cheering you on from here!
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the idea of adding anything to your calendar, keep it manageable by mindfully making time for simple, daily acts of kindness. I call them: everyday energizers. They only take a minute or a few seconds to do—but will provide you with a little boost of feel-good energy.
You can: open the door for the person behind you, smile back at someone who smiles at you, pick something up if someone drops something and then return it to them, remember to use “please” and “thank you” in everyday interactions, hold the elevator for the person rushing to get in, and say “It’s good to see you” or “Have a great weekend” to a neighbor, colleague, or cashier.
These virtually effortless yet impactful acts, acknowledge the presence of another person. They show regard and respect for others. If you don’t already routinely do these, I encourage you to consider starting to do them and creating a habit of giving in these easy, everyday ways. Then, enjoy the powerfully positive energy that follows.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”—Leo Buscaglia
 Larry Dossey. “The Helper’s High,” Explore 14, (2018): 393-399. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550830718304178?via%3Dihub.
 “Why Giving Is Good for Your Health,” Cleveland Clinic. October 28, 2020. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-giving-is-good-for-your-health/.
 Sherrie Bourg Carter. “Helper’s High: The Benefits (and Risks) of Altruism,” PsychologyToday.com. September 4, 2014. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/high-octane-women/201409/helpers-high-the-benefits-and-risks-altruism.