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Do This One Crucial Thing to Improve Your Work Life and Home Life

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Hundreds of studies have been conducted on the effects of good deeds, volunteerism, and serving others. The results show that the recipients of good deeds obviously benefit: they feel more support, experience less stress, and enjoy greater health and well-being. 

But what happens to the doers of good deeds? Numerous studies confirm that those who regularly engage in serving others enjoy better mental health, better physical health, and better relationships.

Michael Glauser is an entrepreneur, business consultant, and university professor who has built successful companies in the retail, wholesale, and educational industries. He’s worked with hundreds of businesses—from startups to multinational enterprises—in leadership development, communication, team building, and organizational strategy, and offers numerous strategies to create a better life – at work and at home. 

Good Deeds Support Better Mental Health

People who volunteer and serve others experience less anxiety and depression, greater emotional stability, higher self-esteem, better work-life balance, more confidence, and greater life satisfaction. It appears that thinking more about other people than ourselves and acting on those impressions stops the mental rumination we all experience over our own challenges in life. In turn, this reduces stress and promotes happier emotions. 

Here is how Dr. Stephen Post, a renowned scholar on the science of good deeds, summarizes the impact of doing good on our overall emotional health: “All the great spiritual traditions and the field of positive psychology are emphatic on this point—that the best way to get rid of bitterness, anger, rage, jealousy is to do unto others in a positive way.” He goes on to say, “It’s as though you somehow have to cast out negative emotions that are clearly associated with stress—cast them out with the help of positive emotions.”

Obviously, purging ourselves of anger, bitterness, jealousy, and negative emotions can significantly improve our communication, relationships, and performance at work. This healing process is aided by regularly doing good deeds for others.

Good Deeds Improve Physical Health

A host of studies show that people who do good deeds and serve others regularly have lower stress levels, more protective antibodies, stronger immune systems, and fewer serious illnesses. They also experience less frequent pain, better overall physical health, and greater longevity. 

One interesting study shows that people who volunteer have a 44 percent reduction in early death, which is a greater impact than exercising four times a week. Another study shows that high school students who volunteer to help younger students with homework and after-school activities have a greater reduction in various biomarkers for heart disease than students who don’t volunteer.

An explanation for these impressive results is that doing good deeds helps reduce the stress in our lives. When we experience stressful events, our bodies release various stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline increases our heart rate and blood pressure; cortisol increases sugars in our bloodstream and suppresses our immune system. 

These chemical reactions are critical when we need to flee from a threatening situation, but they wreak havoc on our bodies if they continue for long periods of time. Ongoing exposure to these hormones can lead to headaches, digestive problems, weight gain, memory impairment, and heart disease. Apparently, serving others shuts down this process and produces substantial physical benefits which carry over into all aspects of our lives.

Good Deeds Lead to Better Relationships

In addition to better emotional and physical health, serving other people can significantly improve our relationships. Research shows that people who regularly volunteer and perform good deeds develop new friendships, are more accepting of others, feel a greater sense of belonging, enjoy more satisfying relationships, and have a stronger support network in times of need. Studies also show that people who regularly volunteer develop better communication and leadership skills. Consequently, they are more employable and have greater success in their work and careers.

In sum, doing good deeds daily works as a vaccine that reduces stress, improves our mental and physical health, strengthens our relationships, and increases our joy and happiness. However, the strength of these outcomes is influenced by two additional factors. First, several studies show that doing good deeds must actually connect us to other people. Simply donating money to an organization or favorite charity without any human interaction does not produce the same benefits. 

Second, doing good deeds for personal gain or public recognition reduces the positive effects of serving others. In other words, our motivation for helping people makes a difference in the outcomes we experience. If we feel pressured to help or we serve grudgingly, we will not receive the same good results. So, we should engage in good deeds because we really care about other people and want to make our organization and community better—not because we want specific benefits for ourselves.

Good Deeds Can Turn Your Life Around

I have seen the positive effects of good deeds in the lives of many people during my career. For example, a friend of mine believes that doing good deeds saved his marriage. Richard Paul Evans is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author with more than 20 million copies of his books in print. 

As his career progressed, the pressures of his newfound fame and fortune put a huge strain on his marriage. He and his wife, Keri, were fighting so much that going out on book tours was a huge relief for Richard, but they both paid a huge price when he returned home.

The crisis hit a boiling point one night while Richard was at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta. He and Keri had a major clash during a phone call, and Keri hung up on him. Richard wasn’t sure it was possible to save their marriage and was extremely distraught. As he was standing in the shower, “yelling at God” that he couldn’t do it anymore, he had a powerful impression: “You can’t change her, Rick. You can only change yourself.” When he returned home, he knew what he had to do.

The next morning, he asked Keri, “What can I do to make your day better?” In shock, she replied, “Why are you asking that?” “Because I mean it,” he said. “I just want to know what I can do to make your day better.” Her cynical response was, “Go clean the kitchen,” which he did. The next morning, he asked the same question, “What can I do to make your day better?” Keri’s reply this time was, “Clean the garage,” which he did for the next two hours.

Let the Miracles Happen

Richard continued to ask Keri this question every morning, and it was during the second week that “a miracle happened.” Keri broke down and started crying, telling him she felt she was the problem. “I am hard to live with; I don’t know why you stay with me.” “It’s because I love you,” he said. “What can I do to make your day better?”

Richard asked Keri the same question every day for more than a month. His daily deeds softened both of their hearts, and the bitter walls came crashing down. They started talking more, spending more time together, and the fighting stopped. Then Keri started asking, “What do you need from me?” They both feel that good deeds saved their marriage.

Now imagine the impact of doing good deeds in your organization can have on your relationships, team success, and overall organizational performance. My guess is that, if you start to engage in good deeds yourself, you may find the same extraordinary benefits at work that Richard found in his marriage. Just try it and see what happens.

For more advice on how to make doing good deeds an integral part of your life, you can find One People One Planet on Amazon. It is written by Mike Glauser, Executive Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. He’s also the Director of the SEED self-sufficiency program, helping people around the world to improve their standard of living and benefit their communities through entrepreneurship.


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