Why doing good is great for wellbeing – and how to make the most of it
When you do good – for your loved ones or strangers – you fire up the area of the brain associated with rewards, leading to a feel-good flow of serotonin and the so-called “love hormone” oxytocin.
It’s not just a chemical reaction, though. Acts of kindness hit the happiness jackpot in all kinds of ways – from the feel-good buzz that comes from nurturing others to a renewed sense of purpose.
Virgin Red is the only rewards club of its kind where members can give back by donating their points to a range of great causes, including animal training for Guide Dogs UK, groundbreaking treatments at Cancer Research UK, new climate-fighting solutions from the folks at Carbon Engineering and more.
As a member of Virgin Red, you can pick out which projects are closest to your heart – then use the Points for Good to change lives, one donation at a time. Here’s a few happiness benefits that you’ll find by doing exactly that.
Acts of kindness help you relax
A 2015 study from the University of British Columbia found that students who performed random acts of kindness over a period of four weeks were less socially anxious as a result. “We found that any kind act appeared to have the same benefit, even small gestures like opening a door for someone or saying thanks to the bus driver,” says clinical psychology professor Dr. Lynn Alden, leading the study. “Kindness didn’t even need to be face to face. For example, kind acts could include donating to a charity or putting a quarter in someone’s parking meter when you notice that it is blinking.”
Being kind boosts your mood
According to 2016 research published in the journal Emotion, prosocial behaviour is more likely to lead to happiness and elevated mood. In a test group of nearly 500 participants, those who were consciously and consistently kind to others reported higher levels of positivity over a six-week period – compared to those who continued as normal, or even those who focused on treating themselves (rather than others). Researchers believe that acts of kindness produce feelings of happiness because they nurture social relationships – and also reinforce a sense of self-validation.
Service to others gives you purpose
Another benefit of being kind is that you get to belong to something bigger than yourself. And this sense of purpose is key to lighting that spark within. Not only does it help get you up in the morning, it also increases your life contentment and even helps you live longer.
Why? Well, altruism means connecting to others – which is great for self-esteem. You as a person will feel better about yourself when you know you’re supporting others. At the same time, you’re widening your perspective to look beyond your own problems and help to solve other people’s. It’s an instant confidence boost which can revive your overall outlook and drive.
Being kind triggers the helper’s high
Doing good, whatever that looks like, creates the “helper’s high” linked to a better mood and the release of happy hormones. It also sparks feelings of appreciation and gratitude which are closely related to stress relief.
So, when it comes to feeling happier, try spreading the special sauce of kindness. The more you reach out to others, the more you’ll get back – for a life that’s brimming with meaning.
Find out more about Virgin Red’s Points for Good causes and how you can donate points by browsing the Virgin Red web, or downloading the app.