Helping others to help yourself can sound like a bit of a selfish endeavour. We have this idea that to help someone should be a completely altruistic behaviour. That we shouldn’t be doing it in the hope of getting some reward or benefit. But sometimes helping others is the best way to help yourself.
The reward you get doesn’t affect the altruistic nature of the help. It’s just a natural benefit which doesn’t come at a cost to anyone. If by helping someone else you can also help yourself then why shouldn’t you do it?
At some point in our lives, we need help. You might feel lost, alone, empty. You might be struggling with life. Anyone who has ever had to deal with depression or any other mental health issues will know exactly what I mean.
You might have tried the medications. All the tips and tricks like exercising or eating healthy, trying to get regular sleep. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we just can’t lift ourselves out of that hole. Can’t shake the fog in our mind. Sometimes the struggle is all too real and hope hard to come by.
Trying to help others, especially when you feel like you need help yourself, is probably the last thing on your mind when you are finding life difficult. You might be thinking how can I help others when I can’t even help myself? Thing is, helping someone else might just be the best thing for you. It might just be the thing that takes you out of your own head. Gives you a shift of perspective. Makes you feel something more than your own self-contained misery.
Studies even back this up by showing that a ‘strong correlation exists between the well-being, happiness, health, and longevity of people who are emotionally and behaviourally compassionate’ as long as they do not find the help they are doing as being overwhelming.
How You Can Help Others To Help Yourself
The Cambridge dictionary defines volunteering as an ‘offer to do something that you do not have to do, often without having been asked to do it and/or without expecting payment’. It’s an act of free will that results in benefits to others.
Studies have shown that volunteering has ‘favourable effects on depression, life satisfaction,(and) well-being’.
A quick Goggle search will show you that there are always people and organisations in your area crying out for volunteers. Find one you have the most affinity towards and sign up.
Spending money on others rather than ourselves can also be beneficial to us. Some would even say that spending money on others can just be as important as how much money you earn. Not only does spending money on others make you feel good and promotes happiness but it is also good for your heart and can reduce blood pressure as well.
In fact, science has shown that there is even a neural link between generosity and happiness. It’s hardwired in our brains.
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”John Holmes (Goodreads)
Acts Of Kindness
Simple acts of kindness can also improve your happiness although there is no set structure. No mathematical formula. Doing a few kind acts may just be as beneficial as doing a lot. The important thing here seems to be that it is an act that you willingly want to do and that you don’t just keep repeating the same act.
According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, who has studied happiness for over 20 years, ‘a variety of kind and grateful behaviours helps maximise happiness’ but ‘repeatedly doing the same act of kindness may lose its ability to boost happiness’.
So maybe the answer you are looking for, the key to your own happiness, is actually outside yourself. Maybe the thing that might help you to help yourself is to help others first.
Put your feelings aside for a moment. Forget about your own worries and the battles you have with your mind. Just get out there and do things for other people. Help others in whatever way you can and you just might find the person you help the most is yourself. What’s not to love about that?
Maybe you can even start now by helping me and sharing this so that others can get some help too 🙂