According to Shawn Anchor, famed Harvard Happiness Researcher, 7 activities, when done consistently, make people more happy. Surprisingly – or not surprisingly – 3 of these can easily be done be volunteering:
1. Commit Conscious Acts of Kindness.
“A long line of empirical research, including one study of over 2,000 people, has shown that acts of altruism—giving to friends and strangers alike—decrease stress and strongly contribute to enhanced mental health.”
2. Infuse Positivity Into Your Surroundings.
“…One study found that spending 20 minutes outside in good weather not only boosted positive mood, but broadened thinking and improved working memory… studies have shown that the less negative TV we watch, specifically violent media, the happier we are.”
3. Exercise a Signature Strength.
“When 577 volunteers were encouraged to pick one of their signature strengths and use it in a new way each day for a week, they became significantly happier and less depressed than control groups. And these benefits lasted: Even after the experiment was over, their levels of happiness remained heightened a full six months later. Studies have shown that the more you use your signature strengths in daily life, the happier you become.”
If your current job does not give you the opportunity to commit conscious acts of kindness, go outside, and/or exercise a signature strength, then find a good nonprofit to support and volunteer so that you can – you’ll be happier!
For a great write-up of Shawn’s full 7, check out this great post on the Barking Up the Wrong Tree Blog.