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Step 2 of being Happier: Giving Back Through Action

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In our series about living a happier life, we last wrote about being grateful for what we have.  Check it out HERE.   However, that was only step 1 in a three step process.  In Ben Bergeron’s Podcast, Chasing Excellence, he outlines two more steps we need to take to make our lives happier.  Step 2 is giving back.

“Giving back” is a general term that most people associate with charity or helping those who are less fortunate.   It may take a lot of different forms.  However, the intended target doesn’t have to be someone poor, and the impact on our happiness is greatly determined by the form of our contribution.

First, for us, giving back simply means helping someone in need.  This could be someone who has less than us.  It might be someone who needs a hot meal, someone who needs a job, someone who needs $20.  However, it may also be a friend who needs help moving or fixing something around the house.  It might be our parents, co-worker, or neighbor.  When we talk about giving back, we mean using our skills, knowledge, or whatever to help make someone’s life easier.

Second, to increase the impact on our life, giving back has to take the form of something that is not renewable.  What we mean is whatever is sacrificed in the name of giving back cannot be a simply renewable resource.  The prime example of this is money.  A lot of people think that donating money to a charity is giving back.  While we don’t dispute money’s benefit to charitable organizations, it isn’t the kind of “giving back” that impacts the happiness level in our lives.  Why?  Because it is a passive renewable resource.  It is easy for me to donate $100.00 to a local animal shelter.  I don’t have to leave my home.  I don’t have to get dirty.  I don’t have to see, touch, or smell anything.  All I have to do is put money in the mail.  My life does not change.  The only change is the 10 minutes it took me to put the money in the mail and the fact that my bank account has $100.00 less.

If you want to increase the happiness level in your life, give back through acton.  Time is a non-renewable resource.  I can get my $100 back relatively easy.  However, if I donate 100 hours of my time to walking dogs at the animal shelter, I cannot get back those 100 hours.  Giving back through action is the desired contribution because humans are service animals by nature.  We pride ourselves for helping others because it is human nature to feel good knowing you impacted someone’s life.  You will also be more appreciative of the opportunity to help someone because you have to consciously commit to giving up your time.  You are less likely to help because you “should” and more likely to help because you want to.

So, let’s break this down.  Step 2 of living a happier life is giving back through action.  Take steps that allow you to sacrifice time to help someone else, whether through action or simply being around as a distraction from life.  Listen to your friends and others who may be asking for help without asking for help.  Look for opportunities in your neighborhood to donate your time to make it better.  Don’t be afraid to help someone you see in need.  Besides, having the abilities to physically help someone else is also something you should be grateful for.

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