Yes, helping others is something that takes on many forms. However, it’s worth asking what drives us to reach out and support our fellow humans?
Think about those times you’ve performed an act of kindness for someone. It could have been something like helping your younger sibling with their homework when you were younger.
Alternatively, it could be more philanthropic — maybe you donate to charity or regularly perform community service.
Perhaps, you find meaning in taking the time to help your friends, colleagues, or peers who are experiencing a tough time.
What drives us to help others?
There’s an array of factors that contribute to our culture of helpfulness.
From a young age, we’ve been taught the value of reaching out to those in need. Many of the protagonists in our favorite movies are either already noble, helpful people, or grow into those heroic characteristics.
Even if we fall short on these fronts, there’s a sense of shame associated with such failures. To be aware of one’s own unhelpfulness or unkindness is something that fills us with dread.
In a sense, we’re socially conditioned to be helpful. Still, this behavioral inclination goes a step further than societal frameworks and expectations. There’s something in our brains that makes us feel warm and fuzzy on the inside when we help others.
Let’s examine this notion a bit further:
Support is essential to our well-being.
Sadly, in recent years, research surveys suggest that people are feeling lonelier than ever. The referenced study had a healthy sample-size of 20,000 people, of which 50% cited strong feelings of isolation. That’s an alarming number.
On top of that, psychologists believe that lacking in social connections is akin to alcoholism or smoking 15 cigarettes a day – given the damage it does to one’s health. Related studies also indicate that, compared to obesity, loneliness is twice as harmful to physical and mental health.
One way to combat isolation and its harmful side effects is by helping others. Being helpful allows us to establish and cultivate meaningful friendships.
In fact, psychological studies suggest that the perspective we obtain through helpfulness “increases feelings of happiness, optimism, and satisfaction." Such activities give us a sense of connectivity with others, making us feel like we’re part of something bigger than ourselves.
Small actions can have a huge impact.
One helpful act can create a chain reaction that contributes to a happier world around us.
We’re products of our environments and emotions are infectious. Think about it — who do you prefer to surround yourself with? If we’re surrounded by miserable, ailing people — it becomes that much harder to feel any sense of contentment.
Fortunately, you do have free will in all this game we call life. When you feel yourself being worn down by a moody, sad, or anxious collective conscience, you can impact change. You have the power to make a grand gesture that can help someone else feel better. Then they might follow suit and do something magnificent for someone else. Rinse, repeat.
At the very least, this can have a healing effect on a community that’s experienced even the most backbreaking setbacks. From there, you’ll be surrounded by happier people, which will better your mood over the long haul.
No one is more or less deserving of help.
We’ll assume that even Mother Theresa took some time to embark on self-care initiatives so that she could give back with the most zeal.
Helping others shouldn’t equate to martyrdom. You can’t help others effectively when you can’t help yourself. On the flip side, this could also mean allowing others to help you.
Every situation is unique.
At Give InKind, our mission is to normalize help and ensure that everyone feels supported by their communities, whenever and wherever they need it.
We know that no two life disruptions are the same — people need support in different ways. And their supporters feel good about being able to help them in ways that are meaningful to them. Whether it’s meal drop-offs for a family with a new baby, rides to the doctor for a sick friend, sharing a wishlist for a child in the hospital, scheduling times to visit an ailing friend or family member, you can organize it all through your Give InKind page.
There is a great deal of mental, emotional, and physical support required to effectively help someone through a life-altering event. If you or someone you know could use a little extra support, create a Give InKind page today.
Give InKind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We have an affiliate relationship with many of the advertisers on our site, and may receive a commission from any products purchased from links in this article. See Terms & Conditions.