The Power of Altruism: Why Doing for Others Helps Make YOU Feel Better

07 Aug , 2019

written by Jess Mally.

It’s Wellness Wednesday again! Here at Season 7 we are continuously looking for ways to help you make life better – whether it’s with amazing outerwear that’s makes you feel better in your own skin (Have you seen the latest brand we welcomed to the Season7 family?? Make sure to check out Whyte Studio and their sick selection of blazers (also can be worn as a dresses) and leather jackets 😍😍 - so ideal as we drastically transition into these chillier days), or through these nuggets of inspiration, we hope that being part of the Season 7 community has been good to you so far!

These last few week’s we’ve primarily been talking about you and how you engage with others. And naturally, as these posts are all about YOUR well-being, we will continue to do so. We have some interviews with incredible people coming up, articles that continue to explore how we can all the best versions of ourselves.

Before all of that, we did want to take the opportunity to shift focus a little bit.

We’ve been talking about how we can find those lifelong friends and keep them, what dating can look like and the 7 Things we all need to stay healthy… but what about what we do for others? Is self-care and self-love the same as self-indulgence? Are we somewhat promoting a selfish ‘me, myself and I’ culture? Absolutely not – we understand that a healthy YOU will lead to a healthy environment around you – that’s why we promote self-care and all that, but you are right, there is more to it.

Today we want to talk about doing something for somebody else and highlight the incredibly positive impact of the thing also known as altruism on our mental, emotional and physical health.

To paint a picture of what we mean, let me set this up with a little story:

Growing up we didn’t have much. We weren’t the poorest of the poor, but we were far from wealthy to say the least.

My mom was a single mom, doing her very best raising two mixed raced kids in late 80’s early 90’s Germany. Not an easy task as you can imagine. Despite the challenges we faced and the various ups and downs of my childhood, I do remember our home always being filled with laughter – whether it was the neighbours’ kids staying over, friends for sleep overs, helping the elderly woman across the street, be there for someone who was worse off than us – my mom always found ways of showing us that no matter how much or little we had, there was always someone who had less and we could always find ways to make their lives a little better.
Another memory is that almost every year at Christmas, my grand-dad would take us on a trip to hand out little gifts to the homeless in our city – at the main train station and other spots around the city, he got us to chat to them, learn their names and take time to – as best as we could – make their Christmas a little less hopeless. This happened, you should note, before we got to open our own presents.

As a kid – as you can imagine, I was always ready to compare the gifts I received to the ones my friends got…And though we always had lovely things to unwrap and be thankful for , I didn’t usually fare well in that comparison. Yet somehow, by the end of our trip handing out those little gifts (which to be fair were homemade cookies most years) I almost forgot that we were still getting presents, let alone had the capacity to think about comparison.

I would be so grateful for what I got to witness – the joy of giving to someone else – that everything else started paling in comparison. Now don’t get me wrong, I was still a kid that wanted what her friends had, but unbeknownst to me, though it didn’t always help me in the immediate comparison game, the experiences of giving and generosity in my childhood shaped me in a way, I could’ve never known then.

Fast forward to now. I’m a 30 - something year old Londoner – I’m freelance and therefore pretty busy. I don’t have a lot of money. And yet, I have never found a better remedy for the sad and at times depressed states that life can at times throw me into, than getting off my behind and doing something for somebody else. For me that looks like volunteering in my performing arts academy and my church, sponsoring children through various organizations and always having a little bit of change in my pocket to give it to someone more needy than me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to make myself out as some kind of amazingly generous person – on the contrary, I’m constantly aware how at times I can still be like that little girl at Christmas, always tempted to compare what I have to others... But I’ve found that extending myself beyond myself, has given me a joy and well-being I can’t find in anything else.

I saw someone post this the other day:

ALtruism

I couldn’t help but wonder what our lives would look like if we all lived conscious of that. The gratitude that would replace the challenging and sometimes angry attitude we can often have… and so on…

And not just that, but imagine we’d all actually all do something for somebody else? Wouldn’t that mean that everyone would be taken care off?

So, our #WellnessWednesday challenge for us all today is this: Do something for somebody else – knowing it might cost you a little something, but also knowing that it will ultimately make you feel so much better.

And the something doesn’t have to be crazy huge either! Whether it’s bringing your colleague a coffee (you know the one who has absolutely nothing to contribute to your career) or planning to be generous to your friends, or volunteering in an organisation of your choice – there are so many ways in which we can do something for somebody else – and the benefits promise to be significant!

We’ll close with 6 hard, scientific facts of why living a more altruistic life will ultimately benefit YOU (and with that society as a whole)*

  1. It promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness
  2. It brings a sense of belonging and reduces isolation
  3. It helps to keep things in perspective
  4. It reduces stress and improves our health
  5. It helps reduce negative feelings 
  6. It can help us live longer 

*Source: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/a/altruism-and-wellbeing

If those aren’t enough reasons to get off that cute butt of yours and do something for somebody else, we can’t help ya ;)

Happy Wellness Wednesday from us!

Your Season 7 Team

Don’t forget to like this post and share it with the people in our world – tag us (@season7_uk) and hashtag #WellnessWednesdays

 

want to read more from Jess? Check out her personal blog: https://jesswrites.org/

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