If you want to be happy, make others happy.

That seems counterintuitive and oversimplified, right? What does the happiness of others have anything to do with the amount of happiness you experience on a personal level?

Quite a bit, it turns out!

Putting effort into improving the lives others, in fact, is one of the most direct and measurably effective ways at increasing levels of happiness in ourselves, from giving gifts and spending money on friends, to volunteering for a charity or simply helping a stranger on the street.

Psychologist, author, and happiness expert Martin Seligman says, “…we scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.”

Our own experiences support this, if you think about it – doesn’t watching a loved one open a gift fill you with joy? Doesn’t the money spent on an event with people you care about yield more happiness than simply buying an object for yourself?

Simply doing good, engaging in altruistic behavior that somehow brightens the day of another person, makes you feel good about yourself. These boosts to your self esteem, your perceived sense of self-importance, your understanding of the impact you have on the world around you, even your sense of community with the people around you – all of these serve to make you happier.

People who volunteer (including kids and young adults) gain levels of self-esteem and happiness that remain present outside of the acts of kindness, and become a permanent state of improved well-being!

It’s almost as if you reward yourself for helping others with a more positive view of the world (and your place in it) – and this makes perfect sense! When you can make someone else’s life better, shouldn’t you feel great about it?

So there you have it, a sure fire way to boost your own happiness while making the world a better place. If you want to make your own life better, make someone else’s life better!

There are volunteer opportunities around every corner, and people all around you could use a kind word, help with a project, some friendly advice, even just the pleasure of your company.

Now roll up your sleeves and get out there to lend a helping hand!