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Help Others, Help Yourself

SECRET TO HAPPINESS? Helping others may be the secret to a happy, healthy life. GETTY IMAGES

Helping others can make you feel good. The key is to find the approach that works for you.

There’s a Chinese saying that goes: “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.”

Great thinkers have said the same thing: Happiness is found in helping others. Scientific data supports this. Helping others may be the secret to living a happier, healthier life.

Giving can feel great, and the more you give, the more you can gain. Follow these tips:

1. Find your passion. It’s not how much you give, it’s how much love you put into giving. You might care about one cause more than others— that’s okay. Support the cause that feels right for you.

2. Give your time. The gift of time is often more valuable to the receiver, and more satisfying to the giver, than money. We don’t all have the same amount of money, but we all have time. We can give some of this time to help others. It can be just a few hours a day, or a few days a year.

3. Give to groups with goals. Michael Norton is a professor at Harvard Business School, in Massachusetts. He says that “giving to a cause that specifies what they’re going to do . . . leads to more happiness.”

4. Don’t forget about yourself. “Selfless giving . . . easily becomes overwhelming,” says psychologist Adam Grant. When you give, make sure to keep your own needs in mind. You matter too!

5. Be proactive. Set aside time to serve your community. Think about your options. Find the type of service that matches your values.