“It is one of the most beautiful compensations
of this life that no man can sincerely try to help
another without helping Himself…”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own lives, we don’t think we have the time or energy to volunteer, sponsor an event, or even complete a random act of kindness for a stranger or a family member. But the truth is that taking that little bit of time out of your day to help others can not only produce an overabundance of benefits for the people you’re helping, it can also serve you in many ways you may not have thought about. That must have something to do with the fact that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 25 percent of Americans do take the time to volunteer. What do they get out of it? Here are the six best benefits of helping others, and some may be a surprise!

1. Helping Others Makes You Happy

Research has demonstrated that when you do something to help others there are actually positive physiological changes that happen in your brain that are related to happiness. These “high” surges are located in the same centers of the brain as food and sex. The rushes are usually followed by long periods of calm and eventually lead to better well being. If you love giving gifts, you’ll understand the research that shows that the person who GIVES the gift is actually happier than the person who GETS the gift. People who volunteer tend to have higher self-esteem, psychological well-being, and happiness.

2. Helping Others Helps You Live Longer

Research has revealed that regularly volunteering can actually help you live longer. One study showed that people who volunteered regularly, for example, participated at least an hour of work once a month or more in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, reduced early mortality rates by 22 percent, compared to those in people who didn’t participate in such activities. Other studies showed that volunteers benefit from decreased rates of depression and an increased sense of life satisfaction and well being — doing good, it seems, made them feel good.

3. Helping Others Can Create Needed Bonds

Humans need humans. That basic fact has always been true and by volunteering you fulfill your human need to become interconnected with others in a positive way. Being part of a team of volunteers can give your life meaning and lead to a feeling of belonging. By helping others you have the opportunity to develop bonds with others who are helping as well as the people you are helping. Getting your children involved in your volunteer efforts can also create a stronger bond with them. Face-to-face activities such as volunteering to help the homeless improve their health and wellbeing can help reduce loneliness and isolation. On the other hand, those who are lonely tend to suffer negative health consequences.

4. Helping Others Reduces Stress

When you are doing good things for others, your body produces “happy” hormones and endorphins that foster positive emotions. These positive emotions reduce stress and boost our immune system, and in turn can protect us against disease. And, evidence shows that the benefits of helping others can last long after the act itself by providing a ‘kindness bank’ of memories that can be drawn upon in the future.

5. Helping Others Purges Negative Feelings

When you’re busy helping others, your mind and body are emanating positivity. There is no room for negative emotions such as anger, hatred, aggression or resentment which can have a negative impact on your mind and body. Your generosity can also help put your life in perspective and encourage gratitude for what you have. Decreasing these negative feelings and increasing your gratitude levels can stabilize your overall health and give you a more positive outlook on life.

6. Helping Others Makes The World A Happier Place

Giving back to your community, organizing events that help the less fortunate, providing meals for the homeless, or helping your elderly neighbor with her yard work – these are all things that you can to help make the world a happier place. Not only do your actions directly affect those you are helping, they also are an example to others of the good things that they could do to help others. Your acts of kindness can improve confidence, control, happiness and optimism for yourself and those around you.

What Is The Midnight Mission & How Can I Help?

At The Midnight Mission, we’ve been relying on the kindness of others to not only provide our three homeless shelters for Los Angeles area men, women, and children but also to implement and sustain programs that bridge the gap from homelessness to healthy, productive lives. Since 1914, we’ve been supporting the health & wellness for the homeless of Los Angeles, Orange County & South Bay through various programs and fundraising events. If you need a place to get started helping others, there is a place for you to get involved at The Midnight Mission. Helping others improves social support, encourages us to lead a more physically active lifestyle, distracts us from our own problems, allows us to engage in meaningful activity and improves our self-esteem and competence.