Just last weekend my tire blew out while driving with my husband and a generous couple pulled over (on a brutally hot Florida Mother’s Day) with no intention but to help.
So yes, I believe angels exist on earth…and they’re everywhere.
Now, can you imagine what it would be like if we could ALL experience the gift of being rescued by an angel at any given time? Being ourselves an angel to others and through our generosity passing on the delightful feeling of safety and protection.
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we all “paid it forward” and enjoyed the immense benefits of prosocial reciprocity?
“Hoy por ti, mañana por mi.” I’ll do for you today what someone will do for me tomorrow.
Research suggests that human beings have an innate capacity for altruistic behavior. Unfortunately, this inclination is many times overridden by our selfish values.
Our individualistic culture makes us self-absorbed. We become so focused on winning what seems to be an ever-ending race that we tend to forget our humanity.
Our ambition outweighs our generosity.
My intention is not to judge you though, since I’m no angel myself. I know what it’s like to be so fixated on the ultimate goal or so comfortably numb that we fail to notice anything else other than our own needs.
But did you know that when we do good for others we also do good for ourselves?
Donating your time, energy, and efforts to good causes can actually help YOU. Not only by giving you the satisfaction of contributing to make this world a better place (as if that wasn’t enough!), but also by increasing your well-being and even your life span.
Research studies have found that engaging in altruistic behaviors boosts our happiness and that people who volunteer with the only intention of helping others live longer than those who don’t.
So while you may think that performing altruistic behaviors will TAKE away from you (comfort, time, rest), what you don’t know is that it will also GIVE you.
Generosity grants you well-being and life. And what’s more valuable than that, really?
When you help people in need you become aware of your good fortune. You start to notice all the blessings that you take for granted and become more satisfied with your life.
Committing acts of kindness enhances your self-esteem. Knowing you can make a difference, either big or small, makes you feel better about yourself. It provides a deeply personal sense of meaning.
Acts of generosity also foster cooperation and interdependence. The more socially connected we feel to others the higher our psychological well-being and happiness.
And remember, happiness is the key to success. So the happier you feel, the likelier you will succeed.
Don’t think you need to take a year off from work and away from your family to go on some altruistic mission to save the world (although if you’re willing to make that sacrifice, by all means do).
Kindness and generosity can be found in the everyday life.
You can start by giving a hug to someone that needs love. Speaking up for someone whose voice is not being heard. Lending someone in pain a shoulder to cry on. Or even smiling at a stranger to light up his soul.
By helping others you will help yourself.
You know that warm, fuzzy feeling you experience after helping someone in need? The (hard to describe but oh so delicious) “warm glow” that lifts you higher? It is generosity working its magic and making the world better while making you happier by the minute. Isn’t that a win-win?
– Clary, E.G., & Snyder, S. (1999). The motivations to volunteer: Theoretical and practical considerations. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 8, 156–159.
– Konrath S., Fuhrel-Forbis A., Lou A., & Brown S. (2012). Motives for volunteering are associated with mortality risk in older adults. Health Psychology, 31, 87-96.
– Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9, 111-131.