When we think about contemplating our happiness, there are many things that come to mind. Most of them are for the most part a little self-centered. By nature, we think of ourselves first I guess. I suppose this is based on our instinct of self-preservation, which is built into our genetic code. Even in modern man, the survival instinct is very strong! So when we think about finding more happiness, we consider things like spending quality time with our family, taking time for a fun hobby, seeking more spiritual peace, going for a much needed vacation, things like that. The list varies with everyone, but you get the idea.

Recently I’ve noticed more stories about people helping others, either in the context of giving money to charities or on a volunteer basis for local organizations. After doing some checking on this, I thought what a great idea to find more ways to give to others as a way to greatly increase our own happiness in life. Most of us have heard this concept before, that is feels good to help others. But how many of us practice is on a regular basis? I know I’m guilty of not helping others as much as I could. In the Buddhist religion, one of the basis tenets is that the way to a better life is by becoming less selfish, and developing a consistent pattern of helping others. So with that in mind, how can we help others? Do we quit our jobs and join the Peace Corps? That would be a little extreme, besides there are a bunch of things we can do in our own community to be of great benefit to others. Here is a list!

1. Homeless shelters – almost every sizable town has at least one of these, and in hard times (like now) they are overflowing in most cities. There are many tasks that need to be done in these places from preparing food, doing office chores, management of other people, delivering and stocking supplies, etc.
2. Food banks – again, most cities have one. They server not only homeless but also the “under-employed” where families don’t have enough money to feed the family.
3. Habitat for Humanity – this organization builds homes for underprivileged people and always need help. If you have any carpentry skills at all, or would even be prepared to learn some, this would be a great place to volunteer.
4. RIF.org – you can help adults and kids that are unable to read by volunteering with Reading Is Fundamental organization. There are chapters in every state, or you can start your own if you have the resources.
5. Hospitals – nearly all hospitals have volunteer programs, where you can provide needed help as a patient representative, information desk staff, or clerical worker.
6. Libraries – many have programs that allow people to help with routine tasks like restocking books. Since these are usually funded by local city or county funds, they always need volunteers.
7. United Way, Red Cross, Salvation Army – all are in dire need of help throughout the year and have many affiliates located throughout the country.
8. Environmental groups – if you are inclined to be environmentally conscious this is perfect for you. The Sierra Club and others do great work and we all know this is a growing trend that is critical to our planets survival.

Ok, these are just a few ideas. You can contact your city or county where you live to find others, but the point is it feels good to help others no matter what the cause. There are many side benefits as well, getting to make new friends, learning things you never knew about the particular group you are helping. However, the main thing is knowing you have changed other people’s lives for the better, which you cannot put a price tag on. Doesn’t that sound like a recipe for happiness?

Author's Bio: 

Doug Hart, CHO of GetPassionForLife.com.

I've spent many years studying psychology, philosophy, NLP, and motivation. My particular focus is on the biggest question in life - what makes us happy? I think lifes more of a journey than a destination, and I would like to make your journey much more exhilarating, passionate, loving, and unforgettable! Take the time to visit us at GetPassionForLife.com, the happiness place.