Several years ago I received a call from a close friend in Mumbai who was planning to make a feature film for the first time. She asked me to help her and since I was taking time off work at the time, I was available to do it and I also really wanted to help her achieve this dream. She asked me to play a role in a movie about a Maharashtrian girl from England (perfect fit!) and help her do some organising behind the scenes. I was really happy to help her and I didn’t take payment from her for any of the work I did. It felt like this project was my own!  After the film was completed and successfully released, I started to focus on my own career and I decided I wanted to set up my own home interiors business. But I was struggling to do it all by myself and I was considering asking my friend for help but she was tied up with her next movie project so i just decided to move forward by myself and take the plunge.

Very shortly after I began, my friend’s time began to free up a little and she would spend her extra time talking to me about my business and what I was doing.  Before long, she had put a hold on her film project and started working with me full time, it was amazing! We created an awesome business together and I’m not sure how I would have accomplished it without her. It was the perfect example of how we are rewarded for helping others by receiving help when we need it. And it doesn’t have to be from the same person either! If you analyse situations in your life closely you might be able to connect the dots between seemingly unrelated people and situations. But a so-called “balance” is always settled.

But apart from receiving external benefit from helping others, there is also a powerful internal effect.  A professor at the University of California carried out an experiment on 100 employees at Coca-Cola. She designated some employees as givers, asking them to perform regular but anonymous act of kindness for three coworkers each. For 16 weeks, employees throughout the company kept a track of their mood and stress levels. What she found was that both the givers and the receivers got happier, an effect that went viral. The generosity and happiness spread throughout the entire workplace, reaching employees who were not a part of the study and even to their friends and family who worked elsewhere.

Further studies have also proven that when patients with chronic pain help others, their pain diminishes. Alcoholics who help others are twice as likely to stay on the wagon. Altruistic teens were more likely to go on to graduate from college and have more successful careers than teens that were more self-focused. And study participants held a weight longer if doing so allowed them to raise money for a charity versus raising money for themselves.

It seems that helping others can have as big an impact on your health as eating nutritious foods and exercising. So next time you feel down, or unwell, or uninspired, ask yourself what act of kindness can you perform today. Then see how you feel!