Last week I enjoyed a big hit of helper’s high. I found a guy’s wallet, and after rifling through it I found several bank cards and membership cards which gave me his name, and then a load of business cards which gave me his number and email. I sent him a message, with the help of a translation app, and told him I’d found his wallet. He was of course relieved and straight away offered to come and collect it from me. The trouble was I live out in Shunyi whilst he lives and works in Lido. He explained he didn’t have a bike or car, but would try get a friend to bring him or take a taxi. Instead, I offered to drop it off to him the next day. It would mean going out of my way a bit, but isn’t that what a good deed is all about.
The next morning we exchanged messages, like a blind date describing what we were wearing, and arranged to meet at noon. He was genuinely grateful and said that if a local had found it, he didn’t think they would trouble themselves to track him down. What really gave me the helper’s high, was when he sent a message that evening. It said simply if ever I was stuck, had a problem, or needed help in Beijing then I should not hesitate to call him.
It is unlikely I will need to take him up on his kind offer, but that sentiment made my act of altruism all the more worthwhile. Many of us feel too stressed and busy to worry about helping others, or we say we’ll focus on doing good deeds when we have more ‘spare time’. Yet evidence shows that helping others is not only beneficial for the recipient, but beneficial for your own mental health and well-being. Doing a good deed can help reduce stress and improve your mood, self-esteem, and happiness. What do we mean by the word altruism? In short, it’s when we put other people’s needs before our own. It doesn’t have to be big, grand gestures either. Offering your seat to a pregnant woman on a bus, carrying your elderly neighbors shopping home, these are simple every day ways of helping others.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that acts of kindness have the potential to make the world a happier place. If more people did even the smallest acts of kindness, that would add up to a whole lot of people being helped and tons of helper’s getting that high. Acts of kindness can also encourage others to repeat the good deed that they’ve experienced themselves. I like to think that the guy whose wallet I found would now do the same thing if he were in that situation. Or make another gesture of kindness towards someone. Of course another big benefit for me was in telling my kids why I was returning this strangers wallet. They thought it was lovely and hopefully that has instilled in them the benefits of altruism.
beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent Sally Wilson moved to Beijing in 2010 from the UK with her husband and son. Her daughter was born here in 2011 and both her kids keep her happily busy. In her spare time, Sally loves to stroll through Beijing’s hutongs and parks. She is a (most of the time) keen runner and loves reading: books, magazines, news, and celeb websites – anything really. Sally is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying out new restaurants.