Helping Others can Make a Difference in Your Own Life

I’ve mentioned more than once that it’s a good idea to end relationships that aren’t running smoothly or causing you more harm than good, but I’m going to guess that a lot of people in your life are friends and family that you really care about.

Most of us are so busy that we communicate with our friends and family online, with text messages and on the phone if we’re lucky. I’m busy, too—all the time management posts I’ve done probably clued you in on that—but in the spirit of Thanksgiving, which is next Thursday here in the U.S., I’d like to discuss the topic of helping others. Research has shown that helping others can make a difference in your own life and I definitely believe it.

Easy Ways You Can Help Others

While I was traveling through Europe, I met a lot of people. Taking trains across different countries and staying in hostels pretty much forces you to get to know others, whether you want to or not. You might be surprised to know that most people out there really do seem like “good folks.”  Sure, some people try to take advantage of others, always asking for favors and trying to “take what they can get.”  Others are the opposite—they’re always trying to do more and help more. Become one of those people for a few hours.

Helping others really can make a difference in your own life. Here are a few easy ideas:

  • Spend some time with one of your elderly relatives or neighbors. Help them clean up around the house or take them to the grocery store. Just sitting with them and talking is a winner, too, because sometimes the smallest acts mean the most.
  • Teach a friend or relative about computers or the internet: how to start a blog, how to upload photos to a drugstore’s website so they can be printed out, how to use an iPod and add music to iTunes. It’s probably stuff you write about on your own blog anyway, so talking about it instead of writing about it will help you learn how to explain things verbally.
  • Volunteer for an hour or two a week. Find a charity that you support like Habitat for Humanity or the Salvation Army, or just head down to the library and shelve books for awhile! Whatever you wind up doing, it will be helping someone in one way or another.
  • When you go to Starbucks or a fast food restaurant, pay for the drink or food of the person in line behind you. That extra five bucks you tossed down will make their day and won’t be missed much from your wallet.
  • Donate clothes you no longer wear or other things that you’re no longer using. I got rid of a lot of my belongings when I left for my trip and I’ve got to admit I haven’t missed them. Someone out there will benefit from the stuff you don’t need any more.

Psychological studies have found helping others can make a difference in terms of stress management and feelings of compassion. I definitely believe it. We’re all busy living our own lives, but every now and then, take a break for a bit and help someone out. You’ll be glad you did!

Take Action. Get Results.

35 thoughts on “Helping Others can Make a Difference in Your Own Life”

  1. Good morning Steve:

    I was thinking on those lines lately about thanks giving what you have written in your blog post. Volunteering and helping those who you already know, can need help.

    I see around me, the younger generation does not know how to help others.

    I guess I will have to start volunteering in my neighborhood.

    Thanks for writing such a help full post

    fran A

    • I think one important thing to note is that volunteering does not need to be a “full time commitment” it is great for those who CAN. But if everyone were to just give 2-3 hours a month (and not just around Thanksgiving-Christmas) then the world would be a significantly better place.

      Thanks for a great comment and thanks for deciding to pitch in and do some volunteering! 🙂

      • Steve, you are right. We should remember the less fortunate all year round. I am trying to teach my child that there are people who don’t even have a home like we do. I think we will have to start going to a homeless shelter a few times a month, so he can see what we have and others don’t. It is one of those things, he will learn more from seeing me do things than me telling him.

        I must say that I am very blessed with my child. He has a compassion and empathy that could not be taught. He has been telling us that we need to go to the hospital with cookies or something to give to people who cannot be home during the holidays. Amazing what I am learning from him, and not the other way around.

  2. Steve,

    I fully agree with you on this one. In my last post where I listed 50 categories in which one could find things to be grateful for, one of the items was:
    “Experiences that showed me how doing good to others comes back multiplied manifold”

    It is all about completing the circuit. It is well known that, on a general note, you should not expect to achieve any form of long-term success if you are only trying to get stuff for yourself and not giving out anything (either in return, or proactively).

    People go through life trying to find their true purpose of living. They look for success in things that later look trivial. And almost always, they find the answer in the act of giving. I strongly believe that service to mankind is an integral part of success.


    • That is true. I do not know if it is “karma” or not, but sometimes the universe does find ways to reward those who reward others and punish those who don’t.

      It doesn’t ALWAYS happen that way and sometimes it doesn’t happen QUICKLY but it usually happens.

      I remember when I was a kid I found a wallet with close to $1000 in it at the mall. For a 13 year old kid that was a life savings. To be honest my friend and I debated keeping it, but we turned it in to security. We hoped to get some reward, but never did.

      About 10 years later though I was on a trip to conneticut and left MY wallet on top of a payphone (yes kids you once had to talk on payphones if you wanted to call someone) I had everything in it, probably about $500, my ids and credit card. Sure enough I realized I lost it and went frantically searching for it.

      A teenager had turned it in.

      I am convinced that If I had taken that money as a kid it never would have been returned to me as an adult. Then I would have bitched and complained about “thieves” and how you can’t “trust” people.

      Good deeds do indeed circle back and reward you. It may take a while…but it happens.

      • Steve, thanks for sharing your story. They say honesty is the best policy. I heard that when I was too small to even understand that it was more than an interesting rhyme, but sticking to it has given me more cheerful memories than the “momentary pleasures” that would have probably been mine if I had chosen the other option. In your case, I just hope the “security” didn’t put an end to the chain of good reactions that could possibly arise from the good act you and your friend did. But then, well, you did your part, and I think that’s all that matters. Kudos to you and your friend on doing what was right!

      • Steve,

        I agree. I don’t know if you call it karma or just getting back what you give. I know that was hard to do at 13.

        I try to do right, and sometimes I am blown away at how confused some are by it. I was at a drive through a few weeks ago, and the teenager at the window must have charged me for the car behind, and it was LOTS less than what I knew was my bill. I am sometimes a bit slow, and it didn’t sink in until I got my change back, and had moved forward. I told the girl at the next window that I had UNDERPAID, and she was so very confused that I did the right thing. she was nearly falling over herself in shock. I just did what thought was right, and what I thought anyone would (or at least should) do since the little teenager who gave me wrong total would be one to be hurting.

  3. Hi Steve,

    Creative and cathartic tips here.

    When helping others you are helping yourself too. Feelings experienced when giving freely are the best feelings on earth.

    Another cool aspect: givers never need. Givers feel grateful for what they have and in most cases they never lack for friends or material possessions since the universe takes care of those who take care of others.

    I’m big on doing things like saying Hi with a smile to ANYbody walking down the street. Doesn’t matter if they are ice-grilling it, give me a nasty look or are looking at the ground.

    A “HI HOW ARE YOU?” is like throwing cold water in someone’s face….they are forced to respond to it. The cool part is virtually every person responds and most with at least a hint of a smile 😉

    Thanks for sharing and have a powerful day!


    • You are absolutely right. I always like it when people take time to say hello. That is one thing I liked about the time I lived in the South, people were a lot more open there than in NJ.

      I am actually a little reserved and shy, I am NOT good at approaching people, but I always appreciate it and I think that it encourages me to say “hi” to the next person I see.

      There is something to the whole, “pay it forward thing” when you do someone a kindness, you feel better and they may too….and do the same for others. It would be really cool if you could make kindness, “go viral” but I guess in a way that is what Thanksgiving and Christmas does.

  4. Steve, very timely message. I’ve been taking a lot of time lately to be sure that my activities are done in a spirit of service, both to others and the world at large.

    Good things can only follow a person who seeks to do good for others.

    • Thanks Joshua,

      Hopefully a few people do take this message to hear (and likely the following 10,000 similar posts on the internet over the next 40 days)

      You can never be “wrong” in helping others the way I see it.

  5. Hi Steve,

    I definitely believe in helping others and you have shown how easy it is to do so.

    One of the ways I enjoy helping my friends is to be there for them in difficult times. I always make it a point to let them know that my door is open and that I will help them through their difficulties in whatever ways I can. Usually it doesn’t involve more than listening and comfort, but if there is a need to do more and it is within my ability to do so, I will.

    This is one way to show that I appreciate and care for the people in my life.

    Thank you for sharing this post!

    • Being there for people is often enough. It is surprising how many people aren’t. Most people have more than enough capability to help themselves. sometimes all the need is a nudge in the right direction and maybe a small helping hand and encouragement.

      Thanks for the comment Irving,

      I hope you have/are having a wonderful weekend

  6. It’s a great post Steve. I regularly donate blood. But helping others and teaching others will in free time is also a good one.
    Being kind and helpful through out the life is hard one but everyone need to try for it. 🙂

    Awesome post and i like it. 🙂

    • Barb,

      Awesome link. Great Idea. There are actually many ways to get rid of tunwanted stuff. I am always giving old clothes to red cross and I actually gave my old beater car away before I went to Europe. There really are so many positive ways to help if you take the time

  7. I actually have a big bin of clothes that I’m planning on taking over; they’re all still really good but I either don’t wear them anymore or I’ve grown out of them.

    I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before but I used to volunteer every week at a local place for about 3 – 5 hours 🙂 – it was wonderful to meet people and help them out.

    As for the others; I love it. Doing those things that may save someone a bit of time or completely surprise them is so out of the norm (unfortunately) but it really does make an impact – people have come to expect that strangers won’t be kind but if you can prove them wrong and make their day 🙂

  8. I am with you on this one Steve. Ending relations that is pulling us down is very important but is not always easy in reality.

    Helping others is a great way to develop compassion and lower stress. So, in fact when you help others you are helping yourself too…Many don’t realize this.

    I have been a volunteer all my life; I was a volunteer for Lions club in my native country Nepal, youth center in Australia. Right now, I am not associated with any club or youth center but helping out an old couple in my neighborhood. The gratification I get in giving is immense and unrivaled.

    What are your plans for Thanksgiving Steve?

    Later on..

    • Nothing too specific for Thanksgiving. My brother is flying in from California right before Thanksgiving. (actually tomorrow) so shall spend the day with family, dinner and watching some football likely.

      Nothing spectacular, but very nice.

  9. Hi Steve,

    Very nice post! Helping others for sure make a huge difference in people’s lives and in ourlives. It sends positive energy and that positive energy is contagious. We should really try to help one person every day whether by putting a smile on someone’s face, helping an elderly person among other things. Thanks for sharing

    • It is surprising how big the “little” things become over time. I agree it can hopefully spread virally. Even if helping does not it does a lot for how someone feels about themselves. There are definite positive benefits for the individual.

  10. Good stuff as always, Steve.

    There is no doubt that helping others benefits us in many ways. Call me superstitious but I believe it even makes your luck better.

    Too few good deeds are done for the sake of doing them these days as most seem to be caught up in their own worlds or looking for something in exchange.

    Some of the best lessons I’ve learned in life have come from spending time with older people and sharing a laugh or two. I enjoy the great stories they tell about times past and nothing compares to the feeling you get from watching them glow with happiness because you helped them in some way or simply spent some time with them.

    This is a great message, particularly with the upcoming Holiday season.

    • I definitely agree about it increasing, “luck”. I am not sure if it is luck, Karma or something else. Perhaps even just the positive self image from doing good deeds that carries over into actions, but while good deeds help the person doing them in many ways that should not, of course, be the reason to do then.

  11. These are great suggestions. Unfortunately we live in a society where ppl are very isolated and live in their own world. I haven’t seen some of my friends for months. People just care about themselves, and their own fortune, and maybe spend 1 second thinking about you. It’s how the world is.

  12. Yeah, you’re so right Steve.

    People DO need to be encouraged to connect with each other because our modern society is so fractured that this is not a spontaneous concept anymore.

    At one time, when a neighbor’s property was damaged the entire neighborhood would pitch in and help them. Now we have insurance.

    Phones and the internet allow us to be disconnected from each other for prolonged periods of time. We’ve lost that loving feeling…

    Air travel and fast cars have allowed us to move long distances from our clan and with little local support, its each person for themselves.

    So yes, we need to remind folks about connectivity and how important it is to show at least one other human that someone cares.

    If we don’t who will?

    Thanks Steve.


  13. I agree wholeheartedly Steve.

    When I was back up in Alaska there was this fantastic restaurant named Hott Stixx. It was incredible. The food amazing, the service great, I was there very first customer when they had opened up. The service was so amazing, the environment and everything that I tipped the waiter over 3 times the cost of my meal.

    He loved me, it felt great, and you know what?

    I have probably have gotten 20x the amount I spent on that tip in return cause the owner of the restaurant came down now and again to feed me meals for free, sit down and chat with me, and now I am friends with pretty much everyone at that place haha.

    To life man! 🙂

  14. Another nice tip Steve.

    I couldn’t think of any other way to give one’s life a superboost than choosing to make a difference in the lives of others. To me personally, I think it’s the short cut to greatness and a life of significance. I surely pays out more in the long run and covers up for any cost incurred along the way.

    Go make a difference today and you’d be pleased how differently your life can turn out to be.

    Thanks for sharing!

  15. Hey Steve,

    Do you do this things regularly ?

    I too think that helping someone can brighten their day and as a domino effect they can make someone else day better.

    And I can only imagine how a world where everybody would be doing a nice gesture everyday will be like. Well, at least we can dream.

  16. Hi Steve,

    All good advice here, especially about helping people who are less fortunate than yourself. It’s easy to think that you have it rough, until you come across someone who doesn’t even have any food to eat or don’t know where they will be staying tonight. We can all help each other out and it doesn’t take a lot of time.

    I look around at other people and think to myself “There by the grace of God, go I”. This reminds me that I’m pretty fortunate when so many people aren’t – there is no rhyme or reason either when misfortunate can touch anyone at any time. I do believe in karma so what goes around comes around. That is not to say to give only to hedge that you will be getting something in return, but to just be a nicer, kinder, and generous person.

    Of course, there is the opposite where you can be too much of a giver and are always thinking of other people, which comes at your own expense. That’s not a good way to live either. A balance is the key, but it has to start somewhere. And, not just at Thanksgiving or Christmas, either.


  17. Great post, Scott. It is definitely time to think of how blessed we are, and one way to be reminded of that is to volunteer. I want my child to be willing to help others, so I know that I have to volunteer as well,

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