Tough. Challenging. Unrelenting. This is what this year has been like for us. But 2020 is coming to an end. Finally! It’s no wonder that some of us are feeling anxious, stressed out, and just… tired from everything that’s happened so far. Fortunately, life isn’t just doom and gloom.
People being the best they can be and doing wholesome things for others are the main reasons to keep going. We wanted to pick your spirits up for the holiday season and to show you the bright side of life, so the Bored Panda team lovingly handcrafted you this list. Remember to upvote the most uplifting stories, dear Pandas. When you’re done boosting your mood, we’d absolutely adore hearing what wholesome things you and your loved ones have been up to this year. So drop us a line or two in the comment section—we can’t wait to hear from you! Meanwhile, let’s get into why giving is good for everyone and why thinking that people are inherently selfish might just be wrong.
Bored Panda wanted to learn more about the relationship between helping others and happiness, so we reached out to 'Action for Happiness,' a movement dedicated to creating a happier and more caring society. The movement's patron is none other than the Dalai Lama. Vanessa King, the Head of Psychology at 'Action for Happiness,' told Bored Panda that doing things for others is a key part of keeping ourselves happy. "If you think about it human beings are social species, we evolved to live in groups so working together and doing things to help each other is the social glue that keeps us together." Read on for King's detailed insights about altruism, the spirit of giving, and happiness.
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King, the Head of Psychology at 'Action for Happiness' and the author of '10 Keys to Happier Living,' pointed out that children as young as 2 years old have been seen sharing which just goes to show that we're hardwired for cooperation. "Participating in group activities and community events makes us happier too. When we do things for others it activates the reward center in the brain, so when we give a gift it feels the same as receiving a gift," King told Bored Panda.
However, we know that life isn't always simple. Life can hit us hard and bump us into survival mode which can make helping others a tad harder than it needs to be. Fortunately, King had some great news for us—there are lots of small ways that we can do in our daily lives to become more altruistic. And really is quite simple. All we need is a bit of willpower and a dash of courage to go beyond our comfort zones and routines.
"At Action for Happiness, we provide daily actions and advice on small changes you can take each day to start bringing more kindness into your life. Small daily actions one at a time can help us to make altruism a lifetime habit. You could start out small by deciding you are going to smile at everyone you meet or pay three people a compliment today."
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She continued: "You can give money to charity, donate to a food bank, or volunteer your time over Christmas. You can leave a food package or a note for an elderly neighbor. All of these actions help others and boost your own happiness and if we are happier, research shows we are even more likely to help others. Our January action calendar has ideas and inspiration for each day of the month to get you started in 2021."
However, what about people who feel like they only care about helping others to the extent that they're rewarded for their efforts? We were incredibly curious to figure out how to move from concentrated self-interest to genuine kindness. King stressed that it's alright to "fake it 'till you make it" and not to worry too much.
"Maybe at first, you start out doing things to help others only to get attention and praise, but you will find that doing things for others helps you feel good and when you see people’s responses. Once you see the difference you can make in the world and to your own happiness and altruism can grow naturally," she said.
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King added that kindness has a ripple effect because people are more likely to be kind when they experience kindness themselves. So being nice and spreading the spirit of giving can have a tangible effect not only on your local community but also on the world. There's a practical aspect, too: by being kind, we increase the chances that others will be there for us when we need it.
What's more, King shared the problems with having expectations for rewards that are too high. We might feel severely disappointed if we set our expectations too high. So it's best to have little to no expectations when doing something for others; from a utilitarian, as well as a deontological point of view.
"There’s an important point too here for people on the receiving end of kindness. If they can, it’s, of course, great to say thank you and add the positive impact it has for you e.g., 'Thank you, It’s great to know that someone cares.' That can really boost the glow for the giver and encourage them to give more," she told Bored Panda what we can all do when somebody else goes the extra mile for us. It's best to vocalize our gratitude instead of leaving it to someone else's imagination.
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"It may also be helpful for the person to think about why they are seeking attention and reward from an external source, a key part of being happy is feeling comfortable with who you are and accepting life the way it is. I’d suggest that the person taking time to build up their self-care to become happier and more resilient. Perhaps start with a personal gratitude practice to appreciate what they already have in life, writing down three things each day that we are grateful for can boost happiness."
Doing something nice for others without expecting absolutely anything in return (whether rewards, praise, or attention) is the essence of giving.
The fact that we feel good about doing wholesome things for others doesn’t mean that we’re not altruistic—our brains are simply rewarding us for being social and looking out for the collective which we depend on. At the end of the day, helping others out feels good. On a biological and spiritual level.
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In modern times, a lot of us assume that human beings are fundamentally selfish and self-interested. That, however, might just be a big bunch of pessimistic and cynical boohockey. Rutger Bregman, the author of ‘Humankind: A Hopeful History,’ challenges the notion that we’re inherently selfish. Instead, Bregman argues that we should assume that people are good. It’s not just wishful thinking, though!
According to Bregman, there’s an evolutionary basis for our instinct to cooperate rather than compete and to trust rather than distrust. In the book, Bregman gives a fresh new take on the last 200k years of our history by reframing the most famous events and studies done. This sort of shift has powerful effects—changing our perspective about the nature of humankind can help us create lasting change in society, politics, economics, and everywhere.
On a personal note, we agree with Bregman. And it’s articles like the one you’re reading now that give us hope that everyone’s got a mini Santa Claus inside of them who goes the extra mile all year long. Not just on Christmas.
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I'm not sure why, but people still ask us why we place service dogs with children sometimes. Let me help you understand, from a momma who knows first hand:
See this moment? I've never experienced a moment like this.
This picture was taken near the end of the day after my autistic five year old was finally able to sit down with his new Service Dog Tornado. He flew across the entire ocean, stopped in multiple states, and uprooted his entire routine to travel the globe for this. He was so overwhelmed through the day that he had to leave to take a break for a couple hours before he could come back. This boy is the strongest child I have ever met; he has faced countless rude and ignorant adults and children who do not understand him, who have hurt him, and who have not valued him because he is different. This picture captures the face of a mother who saw her child, who she can't hug, wash, dress, snuggle and touch freely lay on his new Service dog of his own free will, with a purposeful unspoken attachment. This is the face of a mom who has seen her son experience countless failed social interactions on the playground in an attempt to have a friend. Any friend. Any kind of connection. She has sat with her son while he has cried at night for months because he has no consistent connections outside of the family no matter how hard he tries and no matter what he works hard on in his Autism therapies. It doesn't transfer to the natural occurring world for him. And now she is sitting behind her son silently watching this moment, with the air sucked from her lungs, and no words to say.
Holding her mouth and silently crying because she doesn't want to distract him from the moment and break him away from a pure, honest, and truly fulfilling moment for her son-of his own free will. This is truly magic. Words cannot explain it.
I have cried so many times for this boy, but this is the very first time I have cried for a reason like this.
It's new, it's painful, it's wonderful, and it's grateful. I will always stand behind this boy (probably still crying ) but I am grateful that he will have Tornado to stand beside him. The 4 Paws magic is real. The wait is long, but this moment right here makes it worth every moment of waiting. It's worth every fight for services for my son, every diagnosis, every new provider, every dollar spent, every paper filled out, every school meeting, every shed tear, every step forward, every step back, and every wonder of the unknown future. Some how because of this- because of Tornado- I know everything will be okay.
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A Kind Stranger Drove Two Hours And Used His Drone To Recover Meadow, Who Was Lost In The Woods For 10 Days
Meadow was missing in our town for over a week. It has been snowing and quite cold where we were, so the whole town rallied together to search for Meadow but to no avail. I thought I’d try my luck and share the lost dog poster on our local Subreddit. A stranger Redditor responded immediately and offered to look for Meadow with his drone. I asked the search team to give me the more precise coordinates and shared that with him. To be honest, I lost all hope at that point as it’s been more than 10 days. I also didn’t expect a stranger to go at the length it would require to look for Meadow.
Then at 3:30 PM yesterday, I got a ping that he found Meadow! The length this dude went to is insane: He drove 1.5 hours from where he was and spent forever until his drone went out of the battery to look for Meadow
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