How to Feel Good Without Breaking the Bank

10 Comments 15 April 2011

This is a guest post by Alexis Bonari. Alexis is currently a resident blogger at College Scholarships, where recently she’s been researching scholarships for paralegal students as well as coke scholarships. Whenever this WAHM gets some free time she enjoys doing yoga, cooking with the freshest organic in-season fare, and practicing the art of coupon clipping.

Study after psychological study shows that givers and volunteers are happier than non-givers—by 42% to be specific.

The feel-good sensation after you give someone on the street a cup of hot chocolate on a chilly morning actually has a name: the “helper’s high.”

According to The New York Sun, psychologists say that charitable actions induce endorphin activity in the brain—these are the body’s natural “happy hormones” that are released when we exercise or eat chocolate.

Moreover, charitable actions can lower stress hormones. For example, in a 1998 experiment at Duke University, participants showed lower levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine—stress hormones—after giving charitable massages to babies without expectation of a reword or even a “thank you.”

Such an experiment shows that giving isn’t just for the holidays and that charity doesn’t have to be just about sending a hefty check. Besides, there’s no therapy like knowing when your head hits the pillow at night that you made someone smile.

The following are ways to give without reservation or remorse, for the betterment of your community and yourself:

Give What You Don’t Need

While you’re spring cleaning, make an effort to go through your closet, your kids’ old toy box, and your spare electronics bin and think about what you really need. Most of us can afford to let go of half of our supply of any of these things and still be happy—happier, even.

Go to your closet with a laundry basket or large trash bag. Fill it with all clothing and shoes you haven’t worn in the last 6 months. If you haven’t worn it in the last 6 months, you’re not going to wear it often enough in the next 6 months to justify the space it takes up in your closet. Bag it. Do the same thing to your electronics, DVD or VHS collection, and your kids’ room. If they’ve outgrown certain toys or clothes, put them in a bag to give away.

Give old clothes to your local homeless shelter or thrift store for less fortunate families. Give old towels, rags, and blankets to your local animal shelter. They’re always looking for bedding for the homeless animals as well as pet items and cleaning supplies.

Give Time

You can find numerous volunteer positions by visiting and typing in your zip code. Most communities have at least the two following, solid options:

1Volunteer at your local senior’s home. Many residents are just happy to have someone engage them in conversation. You’ll meet war veterans, seasoned nurses, and people from all walks of life with stories that shouldn’t be forgotten.

2Volunteer at the pet shelter. Most shelters have volunteer positions just for playing with cats or walking dogs. Don’t forget about virtual volunteerism. Many animal rescue organizations have websites to maintain, newsletters to write and send, and listings for homeless pets to post on various websites including Craigslist and Petfinder.

Give Money

This is where most people hesitate, and no wonder—many of us short on cash. Instead of begrudgingly donating a large lump sum at the end of the year, keep spare change that you find in your wallet, your car, and on the dresser in a jar. When it’s full, take it to a local organization that needs help.

Whatever path you choose remember that when you give others, you give yourself and it doesn’t matter if it’s money, a hug or just a smile.

Your Comments

10 Comments so far

  1. Jorinde says:

    This explains it! I used to volunteer for Oxfam (fair trade shops) and even though the work was rather monotonous and I had worked at shops before and been bored out of my mind, I always enjoyed the work!

    I’ve always thought that charity is really a selfish act (as counter-intuitive as that might sound) and here I see how that might be explained. We don’t only give to make others feel good, we give to make ourselves feel good.

    I love the ‘give someone a cup of chocolate’ idea. It only takes a few minutes, but makes a big difference in your life! I try to focus on those brief but important moments on my blog too!

  2. Great post.
    I was a Girl Scout leader and head over my county for 10 years. I loved helping the girls and the adults discover the amazing things Girl Scouts has to offer!

    Currently I am helping my local school with prom preparation!

    Your post is proof that giving is a gift to ourselves!

    Tammy Matthews´s last blog post ..Why Do You Hurt Me

  3. I’m trying to reconnect with blogs that are on my follow list to find out what’s the latest with them. I checked out the latest posts, including this one on giving happiness. Always useful tips & topics. It’s wonderful. Check out the latest on my blog.

  4. this proves that what you give comes back to you. only then we can receive, when we give without expecting to get something back in return. the most simple things make us the happiest. giving is receiving. but only if it is in a honest and true way. thank you for this article.

  5. Hey Shimon, really enjoyed your post! Thank you for sharing!


  6. Rosie Gern says:

    One sure way to forget about our cares and worries is to go out and do something good for somebody. Even when we don’t have worries, extending help to others is guaranteed to give you an instant lift. this never fails.

    As a family we have pledged to do charity work every Christmas. We have what we call a charity fund. Each member of the family…my husband, our two children and me has a piggy bank. We pledge how much we are going to put in daily, starting on New Year’s Day. When December arrives we have more than enough for our Christmas drive. We find that contributing a small amount daily feels easier on the pocket, mind and heart. We hardly feel that we are taking from our budget and allowances.

    Our college batch,recently did an outreach drive to an institution for disabled kids. When I saw and interacted with those kids, I went through a whole gamut of emotions…pity, sympathy, sadness, excitement, cheerfulness, joy. But, those kids helped me in a lot of ways. The joy I felt that day is priceless. I always cherish that memory.

    I’m sure that if we just try, we can find other creative ways to give of ourselves to others. Rich or poor, everybody needs something.
    Rosie Gern´s last blog post ..Improving Your Listening Skills Is Key To Better Communication

  7. Casque Dre says:

    Whats up! You might be some type of expert? Nice message. Can you tell me uncomplicated methods to subscribe your weblog?

  8. Very well said! You had a great point, man! You are optimistic and very inspiring, not everybody thinks the way you are!
    Amy @Palm Valley Ranch´s last blog post ..Organic Food History

  9. It was a very interesting post thanks for writing it!

  10. Whenever we give to others we are actually giving to ourselves. From a spiritual perspective, we’re all One. There is no out there or separation. The illusion might be that we’re “giving” to a separate being, but in Truth we are extending Love to “ourselves.” No wonder we feel good.
    Craig Villarrubia´s last blog post ..Sadness Exposed

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