You Scratch My Back…

Photo by Marissa Angell

Doing a favor for a friend (or stranger) doesn’t just help out the recipient. Do-gooders also get an emotional boost from helping others. Showing compassion once a day for a week (i.e. five to 15 minutes of lending a helping hand) caused study subjects to be happier and have higher self-esteem a full six months later— talk about staying power. But helping others doesn’t just have long-term effects; those who helped others daily were more satisfied with their lives in the short-term after only 10 days. Wondering why? Turns out thinking about charitable donations activates the same part of the brain activated by food and sex. But be sure to leave time for yourself. Overdoing it can make you feel like you’re running on empty— not fulfilled.

The Takeaway: Whether you prefer to lend an ear to a pal or just hold the door an extra couple seconds, helping others has positive emotional pay-offs.

Wanna double dip?

Text: Studies suggest retail therapy helps boost mood, but monetary donations actually increase happiness even more. By giving to a charity you love, you’ll be helping others and adding some happiness into your own life.

Fun Fact: The average woman shops for a total of 25,184 hours and 53 minutes over the course of her life. That’s the equivalent of 3,148 eight-hour work days, or more than eight years.