It’s a funny time of the year. The major holidays have come and gone, and we’re well and truly in the business part of the annual cycle. Perhaps those New Year’s resolutions haven’t quite taken off, and you’re not achieving all those grand milestones you’d hoped for.
If you’re feeling a little down, there’s always the tried and true methods of self-care: sleep, diet, exercise. But there’s another proven tactic that people often don’t think of, yet it’s far easier than getting yourself to the gym or saying no to a slice of cake: acts of kindness.
Finding a way to inject some good into the global melting pot is a great way to get a quick pick-me-up. We often tend to just focus on ourselves as a path to happiness: our own fitness, our own mindfulness, or our own success at work. But by making ourselves the sole focus, we miss out on the positive benefits of helping someone else.
Helping those around you can change your outlook and improve your overall mood. A simple act of kindness, such as giving up your seat on public transport, holding the door for another person or even paying for someone’s coffee can unexpectedly be just the tonic you’re looking for.
Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside says, “People who engage in kind acts become happier over time,” because “when you’re kind to others, you feel good as a person—more moral, optimistic, and positive.”
When you do good, you feel good
Photo credit @Hahn Tran
Acts of kindness can take place in your community through local initiatives, or you can spread your goodwill even further by participating in organisations with a global reach.
Just as with an act of kindness, making a donation has a mood-boosting effect.
By donating regularly to a non-profit organization you feel connected to, you can harness those positive feelings on a more long-term basis.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “during gift-giving behaviours, humans secrete “feel good” chemicals in our brains, such as serotonin (a mood-mediating chemical), dopamine (a feel-good chemical) and oxytocin (a compassion and bonding chemical).”
If you want access to this healthy cocktail, making a regular donation to charity is an easy way to get a taste.
“But,” you may be asking, “what if I don’t have a lot of money to donate? Can small donations really make a difference?”
As The Life You Can Save demonstrates, even modest donations have the potential to drastically improve an individual’s quality of life. People often think there’s nothing they can do when they consider poverty in the developing world, but the reality is completely different.
With the right organisation, your dollars go farther, and this should make you feel even better about your decision to give. Charity aggregators like the The Life You Can Save have already done the research for you, providing a list of non-profit organizations that are the most effective based on their ability to assist the world’s poorest with evidence-backed interventions.
A little goes a long way
Photo credit @Hahn Tran
Being armed with information means that the pick-me-up you seek is just a few clicks away.
The Fred Hollows Foundation is a perfect example of a little going a long way, with their sight restoring surgeries often costing less than what you would pay for a week of takeaway coffees. Since blindness in disadvantaged regions can often lead to a life or death situation, contributing to cataract surgery can mean a great deal more than just helping someone to see.
You can read more about Fred Hollows Foundation and the other 17 Top Charities recommended by TLYCS here. And to see just what your particular donation amount can accomplish, try entering that number into their Impact Calculator.
There you have it: a short and sweet answer to a low mood. Want a pick-me-up? Then just look outside yourself and do something for someone else. Whether it’s through a random act of kindness, volunteer work or a charitable donation—you may be surprised at how good it feels to help out a fellow human.