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The Happy Wellness Room

Altruism is “an action that is done with the intention of helping another” (Filkowski, et al., 2016). Altruism can begin at a very early age, as babies as young as 14 months have engaged in helping behaviors without knowledge of or experience with reciprocity, reward, or encouragement. (Filkowski, et al., 2016). This means helping others is something that we’re born with, or we learn instinctively as we age. Filkowski, et al. also found “altruistic behaviors not only benefit others but also have profound positive effects on the current and future physical and psychological well-being of the person performing the behavior” (p. 2). When we help others, they feel good because they’re getting something they needed; but it helps us as well. Helping people releases oxytocin into the bloodstream, which countereffect cortisol and other hormones that cause chronic stress and inflammation.

How we are able to help others depends on our own wellness and what we have to offer. Someone under financial burden may find it foolhardy to give away money, but they could hold a door open for someone, or greet someone with a genuine smile and wave. Helping others doesn’t have to be a committed relationship with a non-profit organization complete with a schedule and a supervisor. We can help someone at the grocery store by making room for them to get by. We could cast a knowing smile at the young dad trying to wrangle his toddler, or we could yield to someone who doesn’t have the right-of-way but seem so determined to enter traffic right there… We could offer encouragement, generosity, and kindness to every person we come into contact with. Let’s do that; let’s start today.

Mazzella (2023) offers these ways to help others:

  • volunteering

  • time

  • attention

  • affection

  • hope

  • empathy

  • understanding

  • forgiveness


Movement that explores helping others

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