Not only is having a connection to people a key to joy but helping others is another key. Whether it is formal volunteering or simply doing something for those in your regular, daily life – strangers, acquaintances, friends or family – does not matter. Even merely thinking kind, loving thoughts towards others counts.
Research shows that those who volunteer or simply help others report higher levels of happiness, better physical health and more self-confidence. Neuroscientists, James Rilling and Gregory Berns of Emory University found that the part of the brain that activates in response to rewards and pleasure also lit up when participants helped others. Research has also found that oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphin – which are brain chemicals responsible for a lot of good stuff – levels rise when people help others. Many more studies are showing the benefits – mental, emotional and physical – of helping others.
Deepak Chopra says, “Helping other people is an expression of the fullness we feel inside.” “Giving is really just a flow of your loving self to others.” So, after we have a foundation of self-worth and love for ourselves, serving or helping others just naturally flows.
What I discovered about serving others was that it took my focus off of my problems. In serving others, it turns our focus off our ego worries and fears. When we help or think of others, ego is instantly turned off. And we know what happens when our egos are not in charge…relief, joy, all good things! Then, our true selves can effortlessly shine through.
In an indirect way, working on our own growth is another way of serving others. When we don’t give up when challenges arise or we find the good in a bad situation. This provides an example which may inspire others when they feel down or like giving up. When we live our truth and not hide it, it is a way to teach and serve others. I know I have had countless examples of being inspired by others’ personal work which helped me, beyond measure, to keep going forward.
I also experienced that what you sow you reap. In making others happy, I became happy. I like how Dr. Wayne Dyer expressed this concept: “When you serve others, the Universe says, How can I serve you?”
Just as I made a Joy To-Do list, I made a Serve Others list. This is a deliberate way to remind ourselves to do this. It’s a good reminder to quit thinking so much of ourselves and our problems. Who is on your Serve Others list today?