Friday 2 August 2013


So, it's day 2 of Happiness Happens Month, a month dedicated by The Secret Society of Happy People to raising happiness up the agenda; getting people talking about it, listening and spreading it. 

And today I've decided to focus on the area of 'giving'. 

If you're anything like me, you'll already have a sneaking suspicion that giving feels a bit nicer than receiving anyway, and now science is starting to prove it. In one experiment, those people given some money to spend on others or to donate to charity displayed greater uplifts in wellbeing than another group given money to spend on themselves. But giving isn't just about physically giving people things or money, but about doing things for other people.  Yes we can give money, but we can also give time, energy, thoughts, support, kindness, get the picture! The more we give, the more reward we feel. And, in a lovely virtuous circle, the more reward/happy we feel the more we want to give

And unlike the high we get from buying ourselves things or other quick fixes, the so called 'helpers high' tends to contribute to a more sustained feeling of contentment and wellbeing. In fact, studies have shown that amongst teenagers, volunteering can lead to increases of self esteem and improved attitudes to school, amongst other things.

Giving also helps us build stronger connections with others and with the community, building important social links that are all also key ingredients in the happiness mix. 

So, all in all finding ways to give a little in our day to day sounds like pretty good medicine for all concerned. But how?

Here are some really quick, simple ideas for 'giving' today, all of which I have personally road tested! I'm sure there are millions more, please add your ideas in the comments below:
  • Give a little smile to people you pass in the street. Many may think you're a bit loopy but you're guaranteed to get a few smiles back and give somebody a little lift
  • Make or buy somebody you wouldn't normally a tea or coffee, apropos of absolutely nothing other than making them happy
  • Leave a little bit of small change in a vending machine or ticket machine for the next person to find
  • Or even leave some random bits of small change lying on the pavement for somebody else to find
  • Phone a friend or family member you haven't spoken to in a while who you know will appreciate it
  • Give the gift of gratitude and say thank you. A lot. Especially to somebody who has always been there for you but maybe you've not really expressed quite how grateful you are
  • Hug! Be careful with that one...there are those who celebrate random hugging but just pick your victims carefully!
  • Teach somebody about something you know and love 
  • Offer your services to somebody who could do with them
  • Volunteer. There are loads of sites online to help you find the right volunteering opportunity. I like but there are loads more
  • Donate to Action for Happiness or a charity you believe in. Or pop some change in the next collection box you see
  • UK based peeps, pick up a green token at Waitrose and pop it in the box for your preferred cause
  • Go help out at a local soup kitchen
  • Write a letter to somebody who isn't into texting and email but never gets letters anymore
  • Share and retweet all the news you see about  #happinesshappens to spread the word
  • Give your time to somebody you know could do with some help
  • Empty out all your old clothes and bits you don't really need and donate them to somebody or a cause/charity shop who does 
  • Share your knowledge and answer a question on a forum
  • Forward on an article you think somebody else might like
  • Bake a cake and take it into work/next door/your grandma etc
  • Offer to do the chores even when it's not your turn
  • Run your other half a bath or put the kettle on ready for when they come home
And at the end of the day, give 5 minutes just to yourself to reflect on your day and think about how all your little 'gifts' have made a difference, to you, to others; no matter how big or small. 

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please do join in the makes me happy!