What We Get When We Help Others

There is a famous Chinese saying:

If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.

Many people become involved with efforts to help the environment, cancer research, and other big causes. Those efforts are worthy and important.

When it comes to small-scale efforts, there’s far less interest. After all, if you can spend one hour helping many people, why spend one hour helping just one person?

The truth is that we rarely have good opportunities to help large-scale causes. We  always have good opportunities to help on a smaller scale. For example, several times per week, during my commute to the office, I have calls with young entrepreneurs working on their first startups. My commute is about 30 minutes and I’m either listening to podcasts or talking with other entrepreneurs. Either way, it’s a win/win because I can help them avoid making some of the mistakes I’ve made, and I continue to learn – even when I am asked for advice.

When you help another person, that person isn’t the only one who reaps the benefits. You benefit too. Plainly put: it’s good to be good. Researchers have found that helping others is more likely to create a happier, healthier, longer life for you. In fact, contrary to popular opinion, doing something good for someone else leads to more happiness than doing something for yourself (such as buying something new).

Imagine how much good you can do if you help just one person per day. Imagine how much good that person could do if they also help one person per day. Here’s a great short video that puts it all in perspective.

We should all continue to wake up in the morning with a strong desire to help as many people as we can. We should continue to help protect the environment, promote cancer research, and other large-scale worthy efforts. We should strive to share our knowledge and educate as many people as we can.

But we should also remember when we wake up in the morning that we can help just one person per day. It seems small – just one person – but the effect can be powerful and real.

What can you do to help someone today?