How often are your conversations focused around the “good” stuff? Doing good deeds formally, or informally, with an organization? Going out of your way to help the less fortunate? Doing something toward your own self-care?
Every so often news programs present a feature, or series, that highlight the positives. And that does bring attention to the activity. But, what if we went one step further and combined the desire to do good things with what has been proven to result in the greatest impact for all involved?
Science tells us that activities consistently repeated become habits, or habit-like. Whether knowing how to make a call using a telephone, brushing your teeth, or putting on shoes, once you have repeated these activities multiple times, you no longer have to relearn how to do them. Your brain has turned that activity into a habit.
And, when you habitually do good deeds, you actually earn a double whammy. That good act certainly benefits the recipient, but you, the person who did the good deed, actually benefit, as well. The Journal of Social Psychology published a study that proved that adding novelty in your performance of acts of kindness, as in, performing a variety of kind acts, has a greater impact on individuals. After all, even for something we love to do, if we often repeat the same experience, we lose some of that joy; apparently a bit of variety is needed in order to feel that sense of delight.
There are multiple organizations and businesses that focus on performing kind acts, focusing on the positive, and bringing a greater sense of joy and awe to those around them.
- do good things Foundation is an initiative that partners with a variety of charitable organizations to make improvements in the areas of education, poverty, health, and moral compass development. Thus far, the Foundation has partnered with Rotary Clubs, Teen Centers, YMCAs, March of Dimes, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and more; they help organizations set goals and determine how they will be met. As their website states: “We don’t want to try, or hope, or wish to do good We want to actually do good things that make a difference.”
- Live Happy offers a magazine, as well as podcasts and store, in an effort to help you combine the science of positive psychology into your relationships, work, lifestyle, and you, personally. Now in the midst of offering a variety of ideas in celebration of International Day of Happiness on March 20, their #happyacts provides ideas to get involved in making the world a happier place.
Not all organizations approach happiness in the same way; some want to fuel your desire to make a difference by offering ideas for how you can speak up in a positive, responsible manner, appropriately making your voice heard, in an effort to improve the world around you. #first100ways, an organization that offers ideas for making positive steps politically with the goal of affecting the actions of elected officials, is one of the many groups who have taken this route. And, their stroke of genius is offering suggestions that will take the participant no more than 90 seconds to accomplish the task. What could be easier than that!
Regardless of how you decide to move forward, do take that first step. While you are here on this earth, look around you. What can you do, within your financial means and given the time available, that will touch another person?
Now is your time. How will you make a difference?
I can’t wait to hear.
Photograph by Rémi Walle.