There was a time when happiness was considered a “fluffy” subject not worthy of the attention from academic fields. However, with more people currently suffering from mental health issues than ever before, understanding what factors contribute to emotional well-being has become a top priority for some of the top establishments of learning in the world.
One consistent finding is that acts of altruism not only help the recipient to be happier but they help the individual performing the act also.
For example, one study showed that executives who gave their bonuses away to help others returned greater happiness scores than those who kept the extra money.
Another study found that students given $20 in an experiment had higher happiness ratings when they spent the money on someone who needed it rather than on themselves.
So, the evidence is clear. Helping others makes us happier. It’s as simple as that. But it goes deeper than that as well. By considering the needs of others we are adopting a more compassionate and empathetic mindset.
The challenge we face at the moment is that many of us are experiencing fear or uncertainty during this pandemic. This may have an impact on what we focus on and how we behave towards others.
We asked Khody Damestani, Co-founder of mental health company, MyMindPal why helping others is so important in these unprecedented times.
“When we feel threatened there is a tendency to become more focused on our need to protect ourselves. This could mean that we are more sensitive to negative information and less sensitive to the needs of others.
It’s vital to remember that we are all experiencing this threat together and whilst you may be responding in a different way to other people you observe, we are all just trying to do our best to process what’s happening and get on with our lives.
By looking for opportunities to help others whom we can see are struggling we will not only help them to cope but it could help us to distract ourselves from our own fears.
It will also encourage us to show a compassionate understanding towards others at a time when it’s much needed”.