Who doesn’t love the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with volunteering, helping others and giving back? Research tells us that those uplifting feelings are accompanied by health benefits, both physical and mental. People who volunteer have lower mortality rates, reduced stress and lower rates of depression than those who do not volunteer.
However, even if you truly enjoy giving back, it’s not always easy finding the time to do so. Fortunately, you can get the benefits of volunteering each and every day simply by paying it forward for a moment or two.
5 easy ways to pay it forward
1. Slow your roll.
Drive safely and keep your eye out for those in other lanes who may need to sneak into yours. Slow down, flash a smile and wave them in. Even if you don’t get a wave in return, you could be helping someone get to work or an important medical appointment on time, find their way in an unfamiliar area, or simply reduce the feelings of stress that often come with driving.
2. Support local businesses.
We’re talking about the ones most often found on street corners, run by kids under 12. Buying a cup of lemonade can make their day, inspire them to keep up the entrepreneurial spirit and just might even taste good.
3. How you doin’?
It’s the question that can lead to smiles, a great conversation, even a friendship. Taking a moment to look someone in the eye — the barista pouring your coffee, ride-share driver getting you to the airport or even the person next to you on an elevator — and ask how their day is going makes people feel seen. And feeling seen makes everyone feel good.
4. Lend a hand.
The mom trying to lug a stroller upstairs, the older neighbor rolling trash cans up a steep driveway, the kid with a backpack nearly two times his size and even more books in his arms trying to get through the door — each and every one of these people would likely appreciate your help, even if they may not have asked.
A friendly smile directed toward the young dad with a screaming toddler, new employee nervously learning the ropes at a local business or the anxious parent dropping their child off for the first day of school in a new town can turn a tough moment or day into a surprisingly good one.
Each of these easy ways to pay it forward take just a moment and cost nothing or, at most, some spare change. However, they all offer an invaluable benefit to the recipient and, of course, to you.