Written by Emma Seppala, Ph.D.
Science tells us compassion is good for our health, and we know that helping others makes us feel good, but sometimes it feels like there just aren't enough hours in the day. There is so much to do, can I possibly find time to contribute? Yes! In minutes, at no or low cost, and from your desk, you can contribute.
Lend money on a micro finance portal and help people from around the world achieve their dreams in as little as $5 or $10 loans. Watch as that person grows their business and transform their lives. Check out websites like <a href="http://kiva.org" target="_hplink">kiva.org</a> for micro loans that you will see change others' lives or <a href="http://www.heifer.org/" target="_hplink">Heifer International</a> to gift a farm animal that will help a family self-sustain in a developing country.
The <a href="http://www.greatergood.org" target="_hplink">GreaterGood website</a> is set up to help people make a difference in a few seconds. Through just one click and with no cost on your part, you can help <a href="http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=3)," target="_hplink">feed animals</a>, <a href="http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=2" target="_hplink">fight breast cancer</a>, autism, or <a href="http://www.thehungersite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=1" target="_hplink">hunger</a>, <a href="http://www.theveteranssite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=10 " target="_hplink">support veterans</a>, <a href="http://www.theveteranssite.com/clickToGive/home.faces?siteId=4&link=ctg_trs_home_from_trs_thankyou_sitenav" target="_hplink">help rain forests</a> and more. Bookmark these sites and spend a few seconds clicking to start your day on the right foot. You can also purchase inexpensive items from the website's stores to contribute funds to the cause of your choosing.
Gratitude will not only benefit others, it will also benefit you. Gratitude has been <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272735810000450" target="_hplink">linked</a> to higher well-being and lower depression. There are family members, colleagues or even just acquaintances that we see daily and appreciate, yet we forget to tell them. Thank people for what they do, not just as lip service, but sincerely. If you are too shy to do so, send a thank you email or letter, a small gift or even flowers. Such gestures can go a long way.
Research shows that when you smile (whether it's real or fake) you feel better, reduce your own stress, but also uplift others! How? <a href="http://pss.sagepub.com/content/11/1/86.short " target="_hplink">Research</a> shows that your smile activates the smile muscles in others. Ever had that awkward moment where you walk down the hall, smile at someone, and they don't smile back? Sure, you might feel embarrassed, but don't! Internally, you have made them smile and chances are, they may smile at the next person they meet down that hall.
Look around and make someone's day. It doesn't take much. Post an uplifting quote or story on Facebook, buy someone a cup of coffee, ask someone how they are and listen to them with full attention, or pay for the person behind you at a Starbucks drive-thru. Not only will you make their day and feel good yourself, <a href="http://people.virginia.edu/~jdh6n/elevation.html" target="_hplink">research</a> shows that anyone who witnesses your act of kindness will feels elevated and, by feeling so, be more likely to then help others. Warning: You may be creating a vicious circle of kindness and compassion!
For more by Project Compassion Stanford, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.