How to Help Yourself by Helping Others
Learn about the benefits of helping others and ways in which we can contribute to the welfare of our fellow humans.
The human desire to help others is deeply rooted in our neurobiology (Hurlemann & Marsh, 2016). In fact, neuroscience research has shown that helping others activates the “reward” area of our brains (Moll et al., 2006). In other words, when we do something kind for other people, it feels good.
Helping others can be as simple as holding a door for someone or as extraordinary as donating a kidney. No matter how big or small the act, when we are kind and generous to each other, everyone benefits. Let’s take a closer look at the science behind helping others and some of the ways in which we can put more good into the world around us.
Researchers often define helping others as the intention or the effect of improving the welfare of another without the expectation of material rewards in return. This means that helping others can refer to well-intentioned behaviors that succeed in improving the well-being of another person as well as the well-intentioned behaviors that fall short of their goal. We can’t always be certain that the help we offer will produce the outcome we expect, but if our goal is to contribute positively to the welfare of our neighbors on planet Earth, it’s always worth a try.
The effects of helping others on both the giver and the recipient have been a popular topic of research for decades. There are now numerous studies that demonstrate the psychological benefits of helping others. The body of research is far too vast to describe it all, but here are a few examples.
How to Help Others
There are as many ways to help people as there are people to help, but here is a list of a few suggestions for how you can help others:
The ways in which we can help others are limitless. Whether we donate unwanted clothing, volunteer at a senior center, or spend our lives providing humanitarian aid to refugees, our acts of kindness make a difference in the lives of others as well as our own lives.
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Pamela (Pami) Parker currently serves as a holistic practitioner, coach and teacher. Her intention is to be a compassionate guide to those who choose to experience a healthier, happier and more peaceful way of life.