You heard it here first. 2018 is the year of doing good and feeling even better. I call this ‘selfish selflessness’ (bit of a mouthful, but I’m working on it). There are lots of simple daily habits we can undergo to make the world a better place whilst improving our own well being.
The act of giving may go back to the beginning of time, but the concept of altruism is relatively new. The word itself didn’t even exist until 1851 when the French philosopher Auguste Comte coined the term, based on the Latin word alteri, meaning ‘others’.
Turns out he was onto something. Being nice to others triggers the release of the hormones dopamine (giving us a sense of euphoria) and oxytocin (associated with feelings of serenity, and inner peace) giving you an overall sense of happiness as a result. Can’t argue with that.
To get yourself started, here are my five top tips to do good and feel good in 2018;
1. Put yourself first!
It sounds somewhat selfish but hear me out. If you are not looking after yourself, you will struggle to effectively look after others. All too often we put our work, family and even social lives ahead of our own wellbeing. Ever used the excuse ‘I haven’t got time to exercise’? It’s not good enough I’m afraid.
When you train regularly and eat well, you improve almost every aspect of your life. The increased energy, concentration, productivity, sense of wellbeing will free up more time than you ever thought possible.
Carve out some time each day to look after yourself. I would suggest undergoing a simple, morning routine to get you set up for the day. It’s simple to stick to, doesn’t cost a penny, and it’s easy to fit into any schedule. I personally complete a simple 10-minute bodyweight workout upon waking. It’s a great way to fire up your nervous system, burn some extra calories and get the heart and lungs working.
2. Get the family involved
The next step is to help your family (and friends) take care of their health too. Make a mental list of any ways you could help them develop some healthier habits, then get to work on them. Some simple ways include prepping and cooking healthy meals for the family each night, scheduling in workouts, or attending classes with friends that are reluctant to start exercising, or even helping those around you to set up their own morning routines.
3. Random acts of kindness
Challenge yourself to undergo one random act of kindness each day. The world is your oyster here. You will be surprised at the chain reaction that begins with one random act of kindness. If everyone did this the world would be a much happier place.
Examples include; buying a coffee for the person behind you in the queue at the coffee shop, randomly taking a colleague out for lunch, giving a blanket to the homeless, taking some flowers to the local hospital and give them to the nurses. The list is endless, think outside the box to really brighten someone’s day.
4. Dish out some compliments
This is such a simple way to make others happy. Everyone is going through their own battles, and a well timed compliment can be more powerful than we acknowledge. Try to be mindful of those going through a hard time and offer them some kind praise. Something as simple as ‘your hair looks nice’ or ‘congratulations on that job’ can change a person’s mood entirely.
I’m not suggesting you make something up, but be on the lookout for opportunities to deal out some genuine compliments.
5. Volunteer or give to charity
In a recent study at Harvard Business school, researchers found evidence for a strong positive feedback loop between pro-social spending and happiness. In other words, charity or volunteer work has been proven to be one of the easiest ways to improve your own happiness.
If you don’t already, find some time to help someone other than yourself or your immediate family. It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment. Here are a few options to try and fit into your schedules-
· Age UK are always looking for buddies for the elderly (one hour a week)
· Bag up some old clothes and take them to a charity shop (two hours max)
· Help out once a month at a soup kitchen, school, or volunteering group.
· Alternatively, launching 1st February, we have partnered with charity Action Against Hunger to create the 28 Days Better programme for people to live healthier whilst helping those suffering from acute and chronic malnutrition. 100% of the profits are going straight to Action Against Hunger.
One thing’s for certain. If you spend just a little time each day helping others feel better, you will undoubtable improve your own well being.