Happiness and giving hand in hand

Bloomhill op shop volunteer June Appleton loves knowing she is giving back to the community.
Bloomhill op shop volunteer June Appleton loves knowing she is giving back to the community. John Mccutcheon

AS ANYONE who has spent time volunteering or committed a random act of kindness would know, you tend to get just as much out of it as the people you have helped.

Australian Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio says we all know that helping others can make us feel good but few people’s lives reflect that knowledge.

“The happiest people are the most altruistic and the most caring and giving,” said Sophie Scott, the author of Road Testing Happiness: How To Be Happier No Matter What.

June Appleton has been volunteering two days a week at the Buderim Bloomhill op shop for the past nine years and said she could not imagine life without it.

She loves the social interaction with the other volunteers as well as the sense that she is giving back to the community in which she lives.

“You feel like you are doing something good for the local community, but really you get so much more back yourself. I just love it.”

If you cannot commit to regular volunteering you can still reap the benefits of altruism by simply committing random acts of kindness.

This could mean letting someone go in front of you in a queue, opening the door for someone, complimenting someone you meet or telling those you work with what you appreciate about them.

Sophie Lee loves to leave little notes in library books or the pockets of clothes hanging in shops.

“I got the idea from a book I read a few years back and I have been doing it ever since,” she said.

“I just write little things like ‘have a nice day’ or ‘don’t ever forget how special you are’ or ‘someone loves you very much’.”

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For Eliza, this is the most powerful happiness strategy. “I started when I was in a very dark place and felt there was no good in my life. It doesn’t matter how small the things you write are, it’s being thankful that counts,” she said.

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