Helping others is one of the easiest and most effective ways to achieve a positive mood improvement. This has been proven time and time again in various research programs.
This is one of the reasons why I write books and blog posts, perhaps the most important reason. It gives me a huge sense of meaning, much because I often get feedback from readers that what I write is actually important to them. I know what I write makes a difference.
The wonderful thing about helping others is that there are thousands of ways to do it. Writing is not for everyone, but one can find many different ways to suit you and your life situation.
I have previously referred to an attempt I made on my own. I wandered along Karl-Johan’s gate in Oslo, giving a small donation to every homeless person I could find. One can say a lot about giving to beggars, but I can promise you this, I’ve never received and experienced so much joy from such a small amount of money!
Another thing that is great about doing something for others is that you can do this even if you feel awful. Even if you are anxious and depressed, you may find things to do for others.
For example, you can visit lonely elderly people, have a coffee and a pleasant chat. This is a win-win situation, because it is a nice activity in itself. You will not find a more grateful chat-buddy than an older person who has very few people to talk to.
Another option is to find the parents of a toddler and then offer to babysit the toddler for a few hours. This is also a win-win situation, because it is difficult to be depressed around kids, and the parents will be forever grateful to you. Alternatively, you can offer to do some errands for them, or visit them and make dinner.
There are so many ideal opportunities out there that calls for more volunteers. Everything from local work in sports organizations or your local church to international affairs such as peace work or the environmental issue. Take a garbage bag and go down the shoreline and pick up plastic waste. Mother Gaia and the local bird and animal life will thank you.
There are people who have made it a habit to ask everyone they meet if they can help them with anything. They do it because they have become hooked on the feeling of gratitude that follows. Of course, you do not have to take this principle that far, but the point is clear; doing something for others elevates your mood and it makes you feel valuable. And you can do it despite any depression or anxiety unless you are so sick that you are bedridden.
As I write this to you, I imagine an army of good perpetrators and women. Imagine how much we could achieve together if we all did a little more! Note that some people have the opposite problem, they do so much for others that they become almost self-effacing.
They take on everyone else’s problems and push their own problems away without addressing them and eventually experience a breakdown. There is a balance here, and it is important to find it.
If you want to try and see if this can enhance your mood, your local church or congregation may be a good place to start.
Even if your life is truly tough and it may be, you can still help others. And who knows, maybe your life will make a turn in a positive direction as a result.