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A Scientifically Proven Way to Be Happy

I teach a course on contemporary moral values at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. We recently studied Aristotle’s notion that all things have a “telos,” a noble end or goal to which they must give expression. The seed’s highest telos is to develop into a tree; the lyre player’s is to become an accomplished harpist.

With this in mind, I asked my students to write a paper on their talents and how they plan to share them with others after they graduate.

These papers always inspire me to reflect on whether I’m using my own gifts to serve others — or if I’m just milking them for the bucks. Saddled with a mortgage, a ’95 minivan beginning its death spiral, and the prospect of a $900 heating bill in January, even the most ardent idealist can get distracted.

And there are other diversions, including the perennial suburban pastime of “keeping up with the Joneses.” A recent tour of my neighbor’s finished basement sparked a deep yearning for sheetrock, wall-to-wall Berber carpet, and louvered bi-fold doors. I had not anticipated such desires when I entered the working world, eager to give expression to my telos.

So I was delighted to receive a nugget of wisdom from one of my students. He wrote that his greatest gift was the ability to be grateful for what he has been given. He reminded me what many researchers have confirmed: If you want to increase your happiness — including your financial well-being — find concrete ways to express your gratitude.

“Gratitude seems to be incompatible with some negative emotions. It’s hard to feel envious or greedy or bitter when you’re grateful,” says Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside.

She conducted an experiment in which students were instructed to write down five things for which they were grateful. One group wrote once a week, another three times a week, and a control group did not write at all. Those who counted their blessings once a week showed a measurable rise in happiness.

Interestingly, students who wrote more frequently apparently got bored with the routine and showed no change in well-being. Researchers suggest that if you practice gratitude, choose a timetable that keeps it meaningful, and change the domain in which you contemplate your good fortune every week — from, say, health to career to relationships to simple pleasures. That may help sustain the rise in happiness created by the exercise.

Can’t think of anything to be grateful about? Try this technique from Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. “When I have a toothache, I discover that not having a toothache is a wonderful thing,” he writes in “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching.”

“I had to have a toothache in order to be enlightened, to know that not having one is wonderful. My nontoothache is peace, is joy. But when I do not have a toothache, I do not seem to be happy. Therefore, I look deeply in the present moment and see that I have a nontoothache, that can make me very happy already.”

Consider applying this technique to your finances. Celebrate your steady paycheck, lack of credit card debt, paid-off car loan, balanced checkbook, employer’s 401(k) match, or low-cost health insurance. After all, these things are far from universal.

If making lists of the things you appreciate isn’t your bag, consider another method of boosting happiness: Intentional acts of kindness and generosity.

Lyubomirsky and two other researchers had students perform five acts of altruism a week over six weeks. The acts had to benefit others or make them happy, at some cost to the participant — donating blood, helping a friend with a paper, visiting an elderly relative, etc. Those who practiced five systematic acts of kindness in a single day each week showed a significant rise in well-being.

If you want to banish envy, never measure your financial achievements against anything except your own goals. Contemplate the deeper values you aspire to in your own life — your telos, if you will — and organize your financial house to help you realize your highest priorities.

As Aristotle wrote, “The life of money-making is one undertaken under compulsion, and wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking; for it is merely useful and for the sake of something else.”

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50 Responses to “A Scientifically Proven Way to Be Happy”

  1. George Says:

    What a wonderful lesson from the Buddhist!

    I’ve done this in the past but made the mistake of making the list of things I’m grateful for every day. I did notice a decrease in the amount of stress and negativity I felt throughout the day. I will return to this practice on a weekly basis.

    I also heartily encourage people to donate blood. It takes about an hour once every two months. It’s something your body makes by itself, that you don’t really need, and it’s a way of being charitable and of giving without spending a dime.

    Thanks for the great ideas!

  2. Victoria Hinkson Says:

    Three altruistic acts I did today included giving my friend a gift for no reason at all, I held the door for strangers walking into a building, and gave some of my food to my friend that had not eaten all day. I found it interesting that i did these acts without even thinking about it. When I looked back on my day to think of my acts of altruism, i was surprised at was i had done, because most things I simply do because I enjoy making other people happy. By other people appreciating the acts of kindness that I do, it makes me feel better about myself and the person that I have become. By focusing on the good things about my day (such as these acts) it made me forget about the ongoing stress I was facing.
    VBH

  3. Ninoshka C Says:

    My three acts of altruisms included helping my friend with her english paper by giving her ideas, by taking care of my cousin who is not feeling well (making sure he takes his medicine) and donating blood. As a member for life, I donate blood blood every three months and I beleive that it is important to donate because you could save up to three lives wiith each donation. I feel really happy when I do something good for others. I also beleive that everybody should do acts of altruism! it makes you and others happy!

  4. Camille Calixte Says:

    Three altruistic acts that I did today was hold the door for the delivery guy that I see struggling everyday when delivering computer parts to Corragain Hall. He was extremely shock and gave me the warmest thank you ever. Another act that I performed today was throw my roommate’s garbage in the waste room. When she return to the room she seemed confused and thought I was being rude. I explained to her that it is nothing or not an issue to worry about. My final altruistic act was telling some there outfit looks nice. Surprisingly, it brought the biggest smile to their face just to hear a simple compliment coming from a stranger. All these acts made me want to act like this on a regular not just for an assignment. It also made me feel better about myself inside and people will also view me differently.

  5. Justin Tomasz Sadkowski Says:

    Today I let someone in front of me during a traffic merge, I washed my roommate’s dishes, and held the door open for a fellow peer. Doing this with the personal acknowledgement that the person on the receiving end had no explanation as to why I did what I did put a skip in my step and brightened my day.

  6. Amani Khawatmi Says:

    Three altruistic acts that I did today was assist my little sister in studying for her math homework. She was so happy I helped her. Once I explained it to her, she grasped the idea and did all the homework correctly. Another altruistic act I did today was cook lunch for the family. It made me feel relieved from the stress I have been having lately in school. My family loved the pasta, and they were all happy. The third act I did today was giving my autistic 7 year old cousin praise and candy when he did good on his Social Studies test. He had a big smile on his face and gave me a hug. It felt so good helping others. One does feel a sort of gratitude and remembers all the blessings God grants to us when we help out others.

  7. Antonio Rivera Says:

    Well, first and foremost I too believe that gratitude is a gift and not only a gift but rather a skill. In this world, it’s hard to take time to look at what you have and be thankful for what you have when the world does nothing but offer you more and more. It’s like, why not want more? But i think it all depends on how you are raised, where you’re from, and what you had as a child growing up. I pray to God every night before i go to sleep and sometimes it feels too routine and i often catch myself doing it subconsciously. But then i realize that it is pointless to repeat the same thing every night like some type of ritual when really it should be more like a conversation with God, or like a long thank you speech. I often find that when doing good things for people and living each day as far from selffish as you can than you will find happiness; happy that you are a good person and that you don’t need anything in return because knowing that who made someone smile and that you’ve helped someone is receiving and fulfilling enough. -AR

  8. MR Says:

    The three altruistic acts I performed were: Volunteering at my local dog shelter to help walk the dogs, helping my friend revise her paper for our English class, and helping my elderly neighbor by mowing her lawn. After performing these acts, I must say that there is an inexplicably good feeling that comes from helping someone (or some dog, as is the case at the animal shelter) just for the sake of doing a good deed. Even when it is an inconvenience to act in an altruistic manner, I find that the feeling I get from helping another often will far outweigh any irritation I might initially feel.

  9. Nicole Blackford Says:

    Three altruistic acts that I have done recently are:

    1) I played tennis with my grandfather who I rarely get to see since he moved down the shore. He loves to play and even though I had just come from soccer practice where I was running for over an hour, I knew it would make him happy if he could get some playing time and be back on the court for the afternoon.

    2) I held the door for someone walking behind me into the dorms. They were far behind but I figured since the door is kind of heavy it would be easier to just hold it for them. She said thank you and was appreciative.

    3) I printed a document out for a friend who didn’t have a printer and couldn’t get to a printer before class. I offered because I knew it would be easier for him and then he wouldn’t have to rush around before class.

    Honestly, simple gestures like these are the most rewarding. Even though they are very simple actions, they are genuinely appreciated and selfless. It’s good to do nice things for people because you never know if you can brighten their day even just a tiny bit.

  10. Mollie Quense Says:

    Today I paid for lunch with a friend, even though I don’t have very much money. After classes were over, I drove two of my friends home from campus, even though I had been planning on hanging out on campus to get some work done. When I arrived back to campus after dropping them off, I bumped into another friend who needed help with his Calculus homework. So I forwent my own homework to help him. Even though doing these things came at some expense to myself, I was happy to do them because in loving the other, we love Christ, and in that is our true joy. Today was actually one of the best days for me this week; I was truly joyful all day and even up to tonight. I found today, and any day I put selflessness into practice, that in thinking about the other rather than self, I receive greater contentment and peace for myself.

    ~MJQ

  11. J.M Says:

    Three altruistic acts that I have done just so recently was help my friend work on his schedule for next fall semester even though I had a paper to write and it was around 1 am. I helped him organize it and looked up the professors for him so that he would not have to stress about it any longer. I also just listened to one of my good friends vent. I feel that just listening is a great act of kindness because sometimes all someone needs is for someone to listen to them. That to me is one of the greatest acts of kindness one could do for someone else. I also woke my friend up for our morning class because I know she has a problem waking up in the morning. Although sometimes the things that I do for my friends means putting my things on hold, I feel better for myself because I know that they feel better. I can sleep better at night knowing that my friends or whoever I helped that day has something less for them to stress about.

  12. Jennifer LaDesuyi-Williams Says:

    I have done several altruistic acts that I believe have actually shaped my view for the week. I helped a friend who is emotionally suffering from the divorce of her parents, I gave a friend money for food throughout the week because she has no money and when I see her she is always worn out and tired from what goes on in her day, and I helped a professor who was getting overwhelmed with all the things that have been going on this semester. I felt so good when I did these things because it does not take much to do an act of kindness and it shouldn’t take much. it should just be kind from the heart, no questions asked. Personally because I am a child of God I do not mind doing things for people because I know that when i am in need, I have friends and elders that guide me daily and I dearly appreciate it. knowing I helped other people gives me the strength to just keep expanding myself because it makes me feel great and I am sure someone else feels great when they do the same for me.

  13. Shaniel Champagnie Says:

    I do believe that if we took the time to appreciate what we have and show gratitude for this we would be better off. We would become healthier having less stress from dwelling on what we don’t have and what is going on and become more at peace being grateful for what we do have.
    The first altruistic act I performed was helping a friend out who had gotten into an accident and just gotten his jaw wired. He was not able to eat so my mother and I bought him a case of ensure protein drinks. The second act I performed was helping my step-brother who was feeling depressed and distraught after his girlfriend broke up with him. I did this by taking the time to listen to how he feels and give him advice and motivating him. The third act I performed was helping a friend out with filling out job applications. After performing these altruistic acts I felt really good just being able to give myself and my time in order to make another person feel better. To just feel appreciated for doing something for another person gave me a warm feeling and a sense of accomplishment.

    S.C

  14. BD Says:

    I think that gratitude is one of the greatest gifts that any human could ever be happy for. If we took the time out to be grateful for all that we have on a day to day basis people, in general would be filled with such purpose and direction. We would not live in a place that is worried with the idea of “fear and consumption”, i.e if you don’t purchase the latest clothes like the models in the magazine then you will look out of season or unfashionable and as a result you willnot fit in with everyone else . If you don’t make X amount of money then you will not be able to experience the American dream with the big house and the picket fence. All of these ideals would not even take root in popular culture today if people could be grateful for what they have and who they are. I think the principle behind being grateful is just realizing that no amount of things that lack substance,can make you happy. Once we acknowledge this being grateful will seem like a much more feasible thing to do.
    Unfortunately we ostracize people when they don’t seem to look, act or express themselves in ways that we as a society readily identify or are comfortable with. However if we could just find understanding and substance from our experiences then we would be able to experience a true gift.

  15. Pete Smith Says:

    Today I took time to think about what altruistic behaviors I do without thinking about it.

    First, I started off the day by offering to drop my younger brother at school. I knew it would help my mom out a lot because it would give her more time in the day to get work done. I felt glad that I was able to help my mom out while getting to hang out with my brother.

    Secondly, I held the door for a group of prospective students visiting Seton Hall. I held the door because I know that people are more impressed with polite people. If these prospective students notice that people are polite at Seton Hall, they may consider it higher on a list of schools than a school where people are impolite.

    Thirdly, I helped our supply technician in the Army ROTC department carry some boxes from the basement of Mooney Hall up to the fourth story. I did this because I appreciate all the work she does for the ROTC program and wanted to give her a hand. I felt glad that I could help her out.

    I enjoyed paying attention to the altruistic activities that I did today. I will continue looking for opportunities to help other people out in the days to come.

  16. Natalie Negrotti Says:

    Three altruistic acts I have done recently were helping my best friend with his paper this morning before doing my own homework, letting other people drive or pass before me when I drove, and letting my best friend borrow an outfit from my closet. I like making people happy and enjoy seeing a smile on someone else’s face due to my actions. Deep down inside it make me very content and proud of myself for not being selfish or self centered and putting others in front of myself. When I do things for others like allowing others to pass me when driving, I do it when i’m in a hurry as well, not just when I am not in a rush because that’s when I know i’m doing it out of the kindness of my heart. Overall doing acts of kindness will lead me to my “telos” which in my case I want to be a happy person in the end who accomplished making others happy as well. I want to find a place in my life that is at peace with myself and the world around me and doing act of kindness will eventually help me find myself. All in all it creates a better life for myself and for my surroundings.

    NN

  17. Conor Gardner Says:

    Today, the three altruistic acts that I have performed were the following: The first one was I proof-read my friends research paper because it was worth fifty-percent of his grade even though I had to write a research paper of my own. The second act was I helped my neighbor move and spread mulch in her flower beds even though I knew I had to study before I went to work. The third act was I held the elevator open for a faculty member as the doors were about to close. All three of these acts made me feel really good and they didn’t take any time out of my day. I noticed that acts as simple as these really made someone’s life much easier and because of that, I am also much happier.

  18. Dee Martino Says:

    Three altruistic acts that I performed today were holding the elevator open for someone in the parking deck, taking my neighbors dog for a walk while she was away, and help my mom by listening to a speech that she needed to practice. Acts like these make you feel like you did something positive and helped someone in a positive way. If I did not hold the elevator open for the student in the parking deck she would of had to wait for the next one. My neighbor was away and needed her dog to be taken care of, so I had stepped in to help and it did not hinder me in any way. My mom was nervous about a speech she had to give so she did a practice run for me to make sure she was prepared. It is not that these activies are life changing, they are just small parts of the day that can contribute to happiness. By helping others by these small acts, I have a more positive outlook on my day, which results in more positive feelings. I definitely enjoy even when I am able to do the smallest action, as long as it benefits someone.

  19. Dee Martino Says:

    Three altrusitc acts that I performed today were holding the elevator door open for another student, taking my neighbor’s dog for a walk while she was away, and help my mom get prepared to give a speech. If I had not held the elevator open for another student, she would have had to wait for another one. I am sure she appreciated me keeping it open for her, because it probably saved her time getting to class. The next thing I did was take my neighbor’s dog for a walk, because her dog needed to be taken out but she was not home. My mom had to give a speech and to help her calm her nerves, I volunteered to have her do a practice run in front of me. It definitely helped my mom to feel reassured about the speech. These acts are not life changing, but they are definltely a positive thing to do. They helped others maybe even in the slightest way, but it gave me a positive feeling. I will continue to find ways I can help or benefit others, because it also makes me happier, by doing them.

  20. Christine Velardi Says:

    Throughout the day I have discovered the unique altruistic acts I perform. For example, today I helped a young woman find her the Deans’s office in fahy. She was completely lost near mooney and I understood the feeling of being in that situation. I walked her all the way to his front door; I am also bad at giving directions. Right after i had to go straight to my class. Then in class, I saw my professor struggling to move desks around, so I helped him rearrange the room. I also washed the desks down that seemed to be a little dirty. Later in the day, as I was studying for my test the next day, I saw my roommate confused over a mathematical problem. She was in the same math class that I had taken the previous semester. I stopped studying to help her get the answer and understand what she was learning in class. After committing all of these acts, it made me happy knowing that I can help others and someday they will also help me as well.
    CSV

  21. NP Says:

    The three altruistic acts I did today was help one of my friends study for a biology test, I let several cars who needed over in front of me during rush hour traffic, and I took my aunts dog out for a walk because she had a busy day at work and had not made it home yet. Little acts like this really help to keep my spirits up during stressful weeks, and since the semester is coming to an end, it has been nothing but stressful weeks. It makes me feel good inside to help someone out, even in the slightest way. It can really change some ones day just by doing a small something to help them out, without gaining any benefits from it. I know that if I was ever in the same situation, I would want someone to do the same for me.

  22. humbl3pi3 Says:

    The three altruistic acts I accomplished was spending a couple of hours encouraging a sad friend, i helped a blind person get on the right path and I helped my younger friend get home safely. I actually enjoy helpng others unselfishly because it allows me to give a free gift to others pure and sincere. Its like I am sewing a seed into a persons life and whether they remember my name or not, it doesnt matter because chances are they will be warmed and blessed by my unselfish act of kindness. we neve fully know how our acts of love affects someone.

  23. Kerrie Kolackovsy Says:

    **NOTE: I have done these “altrustic acts” throughout the break, and they were very unexpected.

    Today, November 22, 2010, I was in the café and the girl who was in front of me in line could not go through because she did not have any more money on her SHU card and she did not have any money on her. Therefore, I decided to pay for this stranger’s meal because I felt it was the right thing to do. She looked stressed and tired so I thought paying for her lunch would be a nice gesture and maybe help brighten her day a little bit. She then turned around and thanked me repeatedly. I realized that being selfless and just paying for another persons meal is a small price to pay for what you feel on the inside when you see them smile for the first time in weeks (so it seems). She then sat with me at lunch and we started talk about life and how she’s in debt because her father is in the hospital with cancer. She was a remarkable young girl who experienced a lot of life’s struggles and still managed to have faith and hope. She became my inspiration to never give up and there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. I will always remember the last thing she said to me which was, “if God puts you to it, He’ll get you through it.” This selfless act leads me to be more open and caring about others because you never know what they might be going through. A little help or gesture from just paying a meal is nothing in comparison to see someone smile after having a bad day or even in the mist of life’s difficulties.
    Today, November 26, 2010, there was a swim meet at Hofstra University located on Long Island, New York. The pool had lifeguards and was packed with people on the stands yelling and cheering for their swimmer. I was not a participant in the meet, but I decided to volunteer and time the little children who were swimming because my old coach needed “as much help as [he] can get.” In the 200 freestyle, an event in which all little kids fear, a little girl named Marie was the top 8-and-under swimmer in this event. Everyone could tell that she was nervous but when she dove in the pool, she did not come back up to the surface. I quickly threw off my stopwatch and jumped in without thinking twice about it. As soon as I grabbed her, I just remembered how much clothing I still had on which weighted me down. I fought as hard as I could against the pressure and weight and came to the surface. I yelled for someone to pull Marie out of the water, as soon as they did, I stopped trying to stay above the water because I was relieved that she was out of the pool and breathing by the way her chest fell up and down. The lifeguards were also with her so I felt that she was going to be okay but, I then started to down under the water because of the weight of the clothing and started panicking. However, I grabbed the lane line and pulled myself back to the wall and climbed out. Marie ran up to me and hugged me, she told me that I was her hero and thanked me over and over again. Her parents were very grateful as well. This inspired me to never think twice about helping someone in need. And the selflessness award is the fact that it is self-fulfilling. It makes me want to help out more people, even if it was to put my own life at risk.
    Today, November 27, 2010, one of my closest friends birthday party was at a club in New York City. As we were walking back home after a fun night, there was a homeless man on the street who was begging for money and everyone who walked past him, ignored him. I felt compelled to give some money to him. My friends walked right by him and told me to hurry up. I told them to hold one second and ran to the street vender who was selling hot pretzels and hot dogs. I bought two pretzels and 2 hot dogs and ran back to where the man was. He was now sitting against a paved building, hopeless. I ran up to him and said “Here, don’t give up hope.” I caught up with my friends and I looked back to see the man staring at me and then smiled the brightest smile I’ve had ever seen. He yelled after me and said, “Thank you for letting me live one more night.” I yelled back, “You’re worth it.” This night I will never forget. I learned that everyone has a purpose in life, and if just two pretzels and two hot dogs can make someone that excited and happy, then I admit to taking many things for granted. However, to make this man smile through his darkest days makes me believe that showing kindness and care towards other people without a reward for yourself is the best way to live.
    K.K.

  24. Kerrie Kolackovsky Says:

    **NOTE: I did my “altruistic acts” throughout the break, and they were very unexpected

    Today, November 22, 2010, I was in the café and the girl who was in front of me in line could not go through because she did not have any more money on her SHU card and she did not have any money on her. Therefore, I decided to pay for this stranger’s meal because I felt it was the right thing to do. She looked stressed and tired so I thought paying for her lunch would be a nice gesture and maybe help brighten her day a little bit. She then turned around and thanked me repeatedly. I realized that being selfless and just paying for another persons meal is a small price to pay for what you feel on the inside when you see them smile for the first time in weeks (so it seems). She then sat with me at lunch and we started talk about life and how she’s in debt because her father is in the hospital with cancer. She was a remarkable young girl who experienced a lot of life’s struggles and still managed to have faith and hope. She became my inspiration to never give up and there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. I will always remember the last thing she said to me which was, “if God puts you to it, He’ll get you through it.” This selfless act leads me to be more open and caring about others because you never know what they might be going through. A little help or gesture from just paying a meal is nothing in comparison to see someone smile after having a bad day or even in the mist of life’s difficulties.
    Today, November 26, 2010, there was a swim meet at Hofstra University located on Long Island, New York. The pool had lifeguards and was packed with people on the stands yelling and cheering for their swimmer. I was not a participant in the meet, but I decided to volunteer and time the little children who were swimming because my old coach needed “as much help as [he] can get.” In the 200 freestyle, an event in which all little kids fear, a little girl named Marie was the top 8-and-under swimmer in this event. Everyone could tell that she was nervous but when she dove in the pool, she did not come back up to the surface. I quickly threw off my stopwatch and jumped in without thinking twice about it. As soon as I grabbed her, I just remembered how much clothing I still had on which weighted me down. I fought as hard as I could against the pressure and weight and came to the surface. I yelled for someone to pull Marie out of the water, as soon as they did, I stopped trying to stay above the water because I was relieved that she was out of the pool and breathing by the way her chest fell up and down. The lifeguards were also with her so I felt that she was going to be okay but, I then started to down under the water because of the weight of the clothing and started panicking. However, I grabbed the lane line and pulled myself back to the wall and climbed out. Marie ran up to me and hugged me, she told me that I was her hero and thanked me over and over again. Her parents were very grateful as well. This inspired me to never think twice about helping someone in need. And the selflessness award is the fact that it is self-fulfilling. It makes me want to help out more people, even if it was to put my own life at risk.
    Today, November 27, 2010, one of my closest friends birthday party was at a club in New York City. As we were walking back home after a fun night, there was a homeless man on the street who was begging for money and everyone who walked past him, ignored him. I felt compelled to give some money to him. My friends walked right by him and told me to hurry up. I told them to hold one second and ran to the street vender who was selling hot pretzels and hot dogs. I bought two pretzels and 2 hot dogs and ran back to where the man was. He was now sitting against a paved building, hopeless. I ran up to him and said “Here, don’t give up hope.” I caught up with my friends and I looked back to see the man staring at me and then smiled the brightest smile I’ve had ever seen. He yelled after me and said, “Thank you for letting me live one more night.” I yelled back, “You’re worth it.” This night I will never forget. I learned that everyone has a purpose in life, and if just two pretzels and two hot dogs can make someone that excited and happy, then I admit to taking many things for granted. However, to make this man smile through his darkest days makes me believe that showing kindness and care towards other people without a reward for yourself is the best way to live.
    K.K.

  25. Julie B. Says:

    The three altruistic acts had I done was one driving my friend to campus at 8am when I did not have class. The second one was helping my neighbor who’s mother had fallen while walking to their car which had made me late for work and the third was I brought tea home for my mom because she was not feeling well. All of these acts required something of me more than just doing the act. Driving my friend to campus at 8am so they did not have to walk required me to wake up earlier and leave my warm house. Helping my neighbor’s mother had made me late for work. Buying my mother tea had decreased my spending money. During all of these acts, I was not feeling good because I was thinking about the consequences of my “nice actions”. But when I took a step back, I realized that waking up an hour earlier, being an hour late for work, and spending three dollars really does not mean all that much in the scheme of things. Doing these acts had made me feel really great and I was happy I could help three people. Seeing how much I helped those three people erased any negative feelings I had about waking up early and spending money. More people in the world should do altruistic acts.

  26. Lauren C Says:

    Today I was asked to do three altruistic acts. I helped my roommate finish a project for her sorority, I donated money to Habitat for Humanity, and I held the door open for a student who was carrying a lot of things such as books and bags. I understand that I did not have to do any of these acts but when I helped my roommate it actually turned into something fun and not only did I feel good that I helped her but I got something out of it which I understand was not the objective. A wave of happiness washed over me after I helped people and when I saw their reaction to my generosity. Not only did I help people but I benefited from it in the end.

  27. Vaishali Kothari Says:

    There are three altruistic acts I have taken part in recently. The first one is volunteering for CPNJ (Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey). At a residential service, I helped six people who have this brain disorder. This includes participating in various acitvities such as makeovers and playing bingo, and giving them the respect, kindness, care, and conversation that their own family and friends don’t give them. These type of things made them feel more independent, gained self-worth, and stimulated their minds. The second act was lending my friend money so she can get her licence back and therefore being able to get a good-paying job. She has been going through a very rough time and jobs are hard to find nowadays. With a driver’s licence, she was able to find a stable job and was able to get so many other tasks done. Her career, ambitions, and goals are very important to her so this act also increased her self-esteem and gave her regained hope. The third altruistic act I performed was babysitting my friend’s daughter since she is always so busy with her responsibilities. It gave her a chance to have some free time to herself and relax. All these altruistic acts give me happiness because I am able to make others happy. I do not think about whether these people would do the same for me or whether or not they are really thankful. Those things do not matter. What matters is that I am able to unconsciously use my morals and gifts to benefit others.

    VK

  28. K.N.W. Says:

    Today I paid more attention to my actions throughout the day and found thing altruistic acts I had performed. At the beginning of the day as I was on my way to class, I held open the door from some girl carrying a heavy box into our dorm building. It was raining and windy and there was no way she could have gotten the door open without getting her package soaked. It was simple, but I could have easily jut let the door shut on her. Then later on in my day a man asked me where a building was and I gave him directions. He was very turned around and he told me was going to late if he did not find the building soon. I was happy to help him find and building and be prompt to whatever he was going to. Lastly, one of my friend’s fathers died recently and I stayed up for hours with him listening to him. I believe this was my greatest altruistic act, because I was there for him when he really need me and was going through a very rough time.

  29. Puiwing Sher Says:

    The three altruistic acts I performed today were lending money to a friend who forgot to bring her purse, comforting a friend who was really upset and helping a worker to pick up a knife in the cafe. I felt really happy after doing these act because I made someone happier. An act of kindness comes from the heart, it does not require us to sacrifice much to perform a kind act, just like holding the door for the person behind you. It is very rewarding to perform some simple acts. These actions are appreciated by others and could brighten their days in a way.

  30. Kathryn D Says:

    Looking back on the last couple days I was able to think of three altruistic acts that I had performed. The first was holding the door open for someone walking behind me. People who don’t hold doors is kind of a pet peeve of mine so I am always conscious of whether or not anyone is following me into a building. The second act was helping a girl in my Spanish class figure out what a question was asking. I noticed that she looked confused and I know how hard some of the phrases are to understand so I asked her if she wanted some help. The third altruistic act was treating a friend to dinner for their birthday. I love birthdays and I think that everyone should feel special when its their day. All of these things are simple random acts of kindness that can easily make a difference in someone’s day. Not only can you make someone else happy but you also make yourself feel good about helping others. Doing things like this make me realize how grateful I am for the things that people do for me.

  31. Juan Franco Says:

    In my opinion, altruistic actions not only help us to become better persons and member of society, but also they are the best way to reach inner happiness by helping others. I try to incorporate small and simple actions such as opening the door to an elderly person or helping people with whatever I can, from giving directions to donating toys in the holydays. I found that even the smallest action, when done for the right reasons is very rewarding.

    JF

  32. Shanela J.S Says:

    Today I have spent my day focused on doing 3 altruistic acts for this assignment. To be honest having it in mind makes the acts lose that idea of them being special and being truly from the heart. I did many things today in which I sacrificed myself for another but none of which I would like to mention because they hold no meaning to me. If I had done these things out of the goodness of my heart pehaps I woul have a different opinion of them.

    Things I have done recently which I can consider altruistic and feel accomplished and proud because I helped someone are limited to moments where instinct kicked in rather than logic. For example yesterday I stayed with my friend for hours letting her speak and cope in her own way with the death of a loved one. Though my sitting there and listening and my text messages throughout the day to make sure she was okay once she was gone did not affect me at the moment, she noticed it and thanked me reppeatedly. Her acknowledgement of my help lead me to the realization that I had done an altruistic act without thinking or programming myself to it. Thinking back on today I realized that I did do things that I can consider altruistic but they weren’t the things I had planned and executed but rather the things that I did out of my own free will. I called my mother and let her know that sh did not have to worry about the phone bill for this month because I paid it. Also I took on a friend’s work for an organization because I knew she was working on deadlines and was swamped with school work. Though I disregarded both acts from earlier today they are altruistic because I sacrificed myself help another. When I actually sat down and thought about it it was a great feeling. I felt accomplished and happy with the fact that all that i did came from my instincts to help.

  33. Kenneth Kasian Says:

    The three acts that I did where: I helped my grandma by taking out AC window units from around her house. I bandaged a co-workers hand at work. And I helped my sister out with issues she had with her girlfriend.

    I can say that it does make me feel better about myself to help people without having any selfish reason. It brought a smile inside my head each time. It gives you a good feeling that last’s for a whole day to do something selfless.

  34. Anthony Carracino Says:

    There are three altruistic acts that if I have done recently would be, I took care of my great grandmother. While my grandmother was in the hospital I took the responsibility to take are of my great grandmother for a few days and cook, for her give her her pills and make sure everything was OK with her. Another altruistic act that I have done recently was volunteer my services for taking care of old people at a local nursing home in my town. While these people are well off and do have a lot of money to stay there, the nursing home is usually understaffed and I volunteered 15 hrs a week of my time while holding a job and school to help take care of the people there and keep them occupied. The last thing that I have done and still currently do is I am a Lieutenant on the local Fire Department.
    I give 5 hrs a week minimum to meetings and 25 hrs a week to school. Also being lieutenant i get a lot of calls from the younger guys who are new asking me questions. I feel that helping the community in this way is good because, i get a lot of satisfaction from seeing other people happy, also feels good to give back. I would only hope that when I am older people would do the same to help and save me and my family.

  35. Dioanne Adsuara Says:

    The three altruistic acts that I have done are:

    1. I helped an old woman start her car, because she didn’t know how to start it since it was a starter car. She didn’t know that she had to step on the brakes so it can start the engine. She tried to give $40, but I refused to take it, because I didn’t do it for the money, but to help her out so she could go home without any worries.

    2. Another altruistic act I have done is cooking for my family instead of waiting for my mom to cook. This is because after a long day from work I want my mom and my brothers to have dinner without my mom worrying what we would eat. I also want her tor relax after work instead of cooking.

    3. Lastly, I made a package for my boyfriend who is in Afghanistan. I know this would make him feel appreciated and not forgotten for the holidays. I sent him hygiene necessities and gifts for the holidays to make him smile.

    From doing these acts, I felt happier and also relieved that I know I helped someone so that I can make them smile or atleast lift one of their problems off their shoulder. I also don’t expect any rewards from doing these things, because I did this to help someone. From those events my reward is to know that the old lady would go home safely to her family, my mom to relax from a long day from work, and to make my boyfriend smile from being homesick overseas.

  36. Jackie M Says:

    Three acts of kindness I have done recently is teaching English to immigrants. I do this once a week because I love working with people who are very eager to learn. When we are finished each day, they always thank me and I feel so grateful I am able to help them. Another altruistic act I have done is very simple, but holding the door for someone else is always kind. It shows the person that you are aware of your surroundings and willing to take a few seconds out of the day to help someone out. The other act of kindness was helping my aunt carry her groceries from the car. She has a back problem but is very stubborn and doesn’t want help all the time. However, I think she secretly is grateful that others recognize her back problem and want to keep her out of harm’s way.
    JM

  37. Jesse Cruz Says:

    Today I was asked to do three altruistic acts, I donated money to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, I proofread a friends essay, and I drove a friend to work. I know that I wasn’t required to do any of these acts, but I feel as if I benefited morally from performing them as opposed to doing something expecting a reward.

    I believe that if you do something exclusively for the reward, it does not benefit your morale or character as much as if you do something out of the goodness of your heart, or just because it is the right thing to do.

    I remember an event in particular when I was younger, when I saw an old woman struggling with groceries to cross the boulevard by my house, and she dropped a few of her belongings, which I helped her retrieve. I was late to school that day, and was reprimanded for it, but I didn’t regret helping her, because I felt it was the right thing to do.

    I wasn’t seeking a reward or to be excused from being late, because I knew that by helping her I would be late, but it was worth it.

    Which reminds me of a quote that’s hanging on the bulletin board of where I work by Zig Ziglar:

    “What you get by achieving your goals, is not as important as what you become by achieving them.”

  38. Sean Doherty Says:

    I ususally do a lotof altruistic acts by taking care of my sick mother. She doesn’t have any kind of fatal disease but she’s being dealing with chronic pain for about four years now and doctors have not been able to figure out whats wrong with her. Due to this pain, my mom cannot drive without horrible pain and since my dad works, I drive her to doctor appointments at least three times a week. I take her to go food shopping. I also have driving duties, taking my sister to soccer practice or driving my brother to school. I find these acts not really altrustic but almost mandatory. As part of a family, I have to do my part to help. We’re family, we’ll do annything for each other. Therefore, I feeling like I’m just doing my part

  39. Michael Berhang Says:

    This week I had to do 3 altruistic acts. The first act was to help my girlfriend rewrite her resume and cover letter. The second act was to drive my grandmother to a chiropractor appointment. The final act that I performed was to help my mother go shopping at The Price Club. I was proud to perform these acts. I enjoy helping people if they need it. These acts make me feel good and make me feel that my day has meaning. I do not feel like my day has been wasted sitting around doing nothing. The ability to help people without them asking for help is a great feeling.

    MB

  40. AB Says:

    Doing altruistic things brings a sense of happiness. For instance three things that I did that were altruistic are first I helped on my classmates on their finance homework. He was having a hard time understanding one of the finance formulas so I helped him. Second, I helped another classmate get rid of a virus on her computer because it was not allowing her to do anything and she needed it for class. The last altruistic thing I did was I helped my mom fill out some application papers in which she didn’t understand because she does not understand the English language very well. Doing all these acts brought satisfaction and happiness to my day. I always try to help other in any way I can.

  41. Kyle D Says:

    There are three altruistic acts I have taken part in. First, I helped my friend with his english homework. I saw that he was struggling a little , so I offered to help him Before that I planned to do my own homework, but I felt my friend was more important at the time, since I had no problem with my own homework. Second, I cleaned up a spill that i made in the cafe. I spilled honey mustard on the floor by accident. Knowing that the food people would do it, I took it upo myself to clean it up for them. it would save them the trouble of going out of their way to clean up probably another mess. Finally, i donated charity to a breast cancer fund. I realized that breast cancer is a serious problem today, and every penny thats donated to it’s cause, will be importantin the future.

  42. Katheryn Grajales Says:

    Three altruistic acts I did today were cook for my family, help my friend study for her exam, and babysit my two little cousins. These are things that I usually do everyday because they are natural to me. When I do volunteer work with DOVE or in my community, after I am done I feel like I have done something worthy in my life. I feel such satisfaction with myself. Helping others is the greatest fulfillment a person has. After doing daily altruistic acts without even thinking about them, makes me feel like I have done something with my life. I feel 10 times happier with myself after helping others. That is the number one reason I love doing volunteer work.

  43. Christian Aragon Says:

    During my lifetime, I have done a many altruistic acts. One altruistic act that I did was offering my seat on a bus to a lady that had a baby. I saw that she was struggling to hang on to a pole so she can not fall, while carrying her baby. I gladly gave her my seat and I was standing for the rest of the way. Another altruistic act I did was taking care of my dad. He has been recently suffering from severe back pains. As his son, I massage his back anytime he needs me to, no matter what time it is. I drop any activity I am doing and massage him because I know he needs it and deserves it. Finally, a third altruistic act I performed was helping my mom do laundry when everyone else did not want to. I know doing laundry is not easy, so I happily assist my mom in any way possible. I rather help my mom than do something that will benefit me.

  44. Julia Rondinella Says:

    I have recently taken apart in doing three altruistic acts. First, I woke up a half an hour before my first class to drive my sister to her class. Second, I hung up Christmas lights at my job and third, I cooked dinner for all my roommates in my house. Doing all these things did not only make the people around me happy, but it made me happy as well. I was glad to drive my sister to school because she was grateful, and offered to pick me up from campus later in the day. I felt good after I hung up the Christmas lights too because the women I work with at my job are all a little older and could have possibly gotten hurt. I took comfort in the fact that they appreciate having someone young like me around. I also felt good while eating dinner that I prepared with my roommates because we all had fun talking and laughing, and I know one day they will all do it as well. The bottom line is, doing good things have good outcomes as well. Doing the right thing will always give people comfort and success comes from doing generous acts. Whether the act is big or small, the fact that it is positive is all that matters. Comparing things causes envy and that can make people want to “one-up” each other. Simply being happy with ones well-being by going good will be enough comfort for many.

  45. Joe Grogan Says:

    Thinking back on this past weekend, I realize is spent most of it helping others, doing what most would consider altruistic acts. On Friday evening, on the ruck march back to Seton Hall after a long day of ROTC training at South Mountain, a fellow cadet who was on road-guard duty, meaning that he had to run up and down the formation to stop cars from cutting us off, began to show signs of exhaustion. Realizing that I could help him, and not seeing any reason not to, I voluntarily took his place as the roadguard for the rest of the march and let him take my spot to rest. On Saturday, a friend of mine needed to go to New York and take a tour of a cathedral for his philosophy class. The problem was that he didn’t have any clue how to get around the city. Since I know my way around the city well enough to survive, I woke up rather early and took him to the place he needed to go, then took a small trip to Rockefeller Center to show him the famous Christmas tree that he had never seen before. Finally, on Saturday evening, after having been in the city all day, I went out with my friends to a party. Not being one to drink too heavily, I was the only relatively sober one in our group, while the rest of my friends were barely able to walk. Instead of leaving them to wander around South Orange when everyone was kicked out after the party, I walked each of them back to their room and made sure each of their belongings were in a place they could find them in the morning.

    While I did feel good about the things I did to help my friends and peers over those 24 hours, that wasn’t the reason I did them. I did them because they were the right course of action, and because I knew that I’m going to want someone to help me out the next time I’m in each of those situations. I didn’t think about myself when I made the choices I did, but about the people I was helping, and I knew that if nobody else was going to help them, it was my obligation to.

  46. Cameron Rhein Says:

    Three altruistic things that I did today were help a friend study for a quiz, helped another friend clean his room, and also allowed someone to take the last piece of pizza at a club event. For an overall crappy day that I have been having, these three altruistic things actually helped bring a bright spot to my day. When you do something nice for somebody, it helps make a day seem so much better than it actually has been and even though I knew I was not receiving anything in return, it still made me feel better about myself because I knew that I was helping others out either in a small way such as letting someone have the last slice of pizza or a bigger way such as helping someone study for a test when they are having trouble.

  47. S Patel Says:

    Every single day I do altruistic acts in the sense of helping those who are in need and also to those who can offer me nothing. As a volunteer EMT technically I always do altruistic deeds, but this one particular day was special. My best friend smokes about a pack a day of Newport cigarettes. That’s way too much fiber glass for a delicate lung. As he was about to light up his last cigarette of the pack, I quickly snatched it out of his mouth and snapped it in half. I saved about seven minutes of my best friend’s life. Although my second altruistic deed is no comparison to the previous one, it still counts as doing a good deed. As I was on my way to my car from class, I saw a woman holding many things in both of her hands as she was trying to walk through the doors. I held the door open for this women and she said “ohhh god bless you my child” I felt truly great! The third altruistic deed I did was, one time I was picking up my friend from William Paterson University in Wayne. On the way back I got hungry and went to the local checkers in Paterson, the ghetto of Paterson. As I bought 20 dollars worth of food I saw an older man standing on the corner dressed in ripped and raggedy clothing who obviously looked sad. I thought, I had a 10 dollar bill only. I can go home and ask my dad for money, as much as I want, but this man cant. He has no one to go home to that will come to his financial rescue, so I gave him my money. I truly hope he spent it on something good instead of drugs. I know I made his day though.

  48. Patrick A. Says:

    Three altruistic acts I did today included visiting my friend’s grandparents. I have known my friend since I was born and when we were kids I’d go over his house almost every day seeing his grandparents who were watching over them. Visiting them today, since I haven’t seen them in months, I am sure they enjoyed our company, were happy to look back at old memories, and loved the unexpected visit. Secondly was telling one of my friends she looked nice today. Sometimes this can be the simplest act of kindness that hopefully brightened up her day. Lastly was I had gone out to get food for my sister who was not feeling well today. She asked me if I could get her something to eat, and since she was sick in bed I told her of course. Hopefully some altruistic acts we do every day make ourselves happy and others.

    PA

  49. Alisha Patel Says:

    Three altruistic acts i have done recently is first i gave my friend a ride to the post office because it was rainy and cold out and if i was her i wouldnt want to walk there either, the second thing i did was hold the door open for this lady who had her hands full with three small kids, and the third act i did was help a old lady who was parked next to me at the grocery store, she was struggling getting her groceries in the car so i asked her if she needed help and she was so thankful because i can tell she really needed help. doing these acts were not hard to do because i wanted to do them, its the simple things in life that make people happy and by helping people who maybe having a rough day, doing this little act can change their whole mood around. when i helped them, i also helped myself because it made me happy knowing i made a difference in a postive way in someone elses life. by helping them may have encouraged them to do a random act for someone else who needed help. i feel doing these little acts should be a chore, but we should do them because its our duty and its the right thing to do. its the little moments in life that make a big difference to someone else, jus saying a simple “thank you” can make someone happy.

  50. Bruce Thompson Says:

    As the article and Aristotle reminds us, “If we THINK, so too are we grateful because with thought we manifest good feelings, big dreams, a VISION, ideas, fantasy to escape a painful experience if just for a moment…

    B.E. Thompson, Contributing Author if just published book:
    “Celebrating 365 Days of Gratitude”

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