Benefits of Doing Good Deeds

Written by: Pard Bharaj



Time to read 10 min

Introduction: Health Benefits of Good Deeds

A good deed is an action taken to benefit others, often performed without expecting anything in return. These can range from small acts of kindness, like holding the door open for someone, to larger efforts such as volunteering or donating to a charity. 

In this article, I will explore the main benefits that arise from performing good deeds, illustrating why this approach is not just altruistic, but also advantageous.

Overview of Why Doing Good Deeds Is Valued in Various Cultures:

Across cultures, the practice of doing good deeds is universally esteemed, often rooted in religious and moral frameworks that emphasise kindness, reciprocity, and community welfare.

  1. Christianity: In Christian teachings, charity is seen as a manifestation of love. The Bible encourages believers to love their neighbours and help the less fortunate, epitomised by the parable of the Good Samaritan. This act of helping others is often seen as serving God himself, as noted in Matthew 25:40: "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

  2. Islam: Charity, or 'Zakat', is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is obligatory for all financially stable Muslims to give a portion of their wealth to the needy, which purifies yearly earnings that are in excess of what is required to meet the basic needs. This practice is not only seen as a duty but as a way of cleansing one's wealth and soul from greed.

  3. Hinduism: The concept of 'Dana' (giving) in Hinduism is an important virtue, where the giver benefits as much as the receiver. It is believed that giving leads to the betterment of one’s karma and is essential to the pursuit of dharma (moral life). Acts of charity are thought to bring one closer to achieving Moksha, or liberation from the cycle of rebirth.

  4. Buddhism: In Buddhism, giving, or 'Dana', is one of the perfections (paramitas) that a Bodhisattva must practise to achieve enlightenment. It is a means of cultivating generosity to lessen one’s attachments and ego. The act of giving is highly valued, and is believed to generate positive karmic effects that lead to future happiness and eventual enlightenment.

  5. Judaism: Tzedakah, often translated as charity, is a fundamental part of the Jewish faith. It is considered an act of justice and righteousness, rather than voluntary benevolence. It is a moral obligation to assist those in need, and doing so is believed to benefit the giver as much as the receiver.

  6. Sikhism: In Sikhism, the principle of 'Seva' or selfless service is integral. It is an expression of humility and a demonstration of solidarity with the entire human race. Sikhs are encouraged to perform Seva without any expectation of reward, which is seen as essential to spiritual growth and as a means to promote equality and reduce ego. The Langar, a free communal meal provided in Gurdwaras, embodies this philosophy by welcoming people of all faiths to partake in the meal, symbolising the values of sharing and community support.

  7. Good Deeds Beyond Religious Contexts: Good deeds are not limited to religious frameworks. Humanism promotes ethical living and altruism based on rational thinking. In Scandinavia, social responsibility and welfare are grounded in values of equality and communal good, rather than religious beliefs. Philosophies like Confucianism and Utilitarianism encourage moral behavior and actions that improve societal welfare through principles of benevolence and maximising happiness.

Benefits of Doing Good Deeds:

1. Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being:

Engaging in good deeds significantly impacts mental health and emotional well-being. Helping others not only provides immediate emotional satisfaction but also contributes to long-term mood enhancement. Studies have shown that altruistic behaviors can lower stress levels, making us feel more peaceful and content.

The connection between performing good deeds and improved mental health is profound. Acts of kindness are linked with reductions in symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. This positive effect is often attributed to the sense of connection and community that comes from helping others, countering feelings of isolation and despair.

Additionally, doing good deeds plays a crucial role in shaping how we see ourselves. Regularly engaging in acts of kindness can boost self-esteem and reinforce a sense of purpose. This enhanced self-perception is vital, not just for personal satisfaction, but for cultivating a resilient, positive mindset that permeates all areas of life.

Asian man in traditional attire inspecting asian ginseng (panax) roots on a wooden table in a classical Chinese setting.

2. Social Benefits:

Performing good deeds extends beyond individual fulfilment, playing a key role in enhancing social dynamics. One of the most significant social benefits is the strengthening of community ties. By engaging in acts of kindness within a community, individuals foster a sense of cooperation and shared purpose. Whether it's organising a local clean-up or helping a neighbour in need, these activities build a foundation of mutual support and trust among community members.

The impact of a single good deed often resonates further than the initial act, serving as a catalyst for a ripple effect of kindness. When people witness or learn about acts of generosity, they are frequently inspired to perform their own good deeds. This chain reaction can exponentially increase the positive impact within a community, inspiring an ongoing cycle of kindness.

Additionally, altruism is a powerful tool for building and strengthening relationships. Helping others can enhance bonds with friends and family, creating deeper connections through shared experiences of giving. It can also serve as a bridge to new relationships, as collaborative efforts often bring together individuals who share similar values and interests, paving the way for lasting friendships and networks.

Indian man grinding ginger in a mortar in a traditional Indian setting with architecture and sunlight.

3. Physical Benefits:

The act of performing good deeds not only enriches our mental and social lives but also has tangible physical health benefits. Intriguingly, research has demonstrated a link between altruistic behaviour and longevity. Studies suggest that those who regularly engage in acts of kindness and volunteer work tend to live longer than those who do not. This correlation may be due to the positive stress-reducing effects of helping others, which can, in turn, decrease the wear and tear on the body over time.

Regarding general health, there are compelling findings that suggest doing good can directly influence physical well-being. For instance, engaging in altruistic activities has been associated with lower blood pressure. This effect is particularly noted among older adults, indicating that the act of giving can be as beneficial to the body as it is to the soul. Such research underscores the profound impact that living a life oriented towards helping others can have on our physical health, potentially warding off disease and contributing to a healthier, more robust constitution.

A stylized woman in Egyptian headdress holding a pomegranate with an ancient temple in the background.

4. Spiritual Benefits:

The Law of Cause and Effect (Karma):  The concept of karma, rooted in many spiritual traditions, posits that our actions inevitably influence our future—both spiritually and practically. This universal law suggests that good deeds are often reciprocated, leading to positive outcomes for those who perform them. Engaging in acts of kindness and generosity sets off a chain reaction of positive energy, which can manifest as increased opportunities, improved relationships, and a general sense of well-being. This belief encourages individuals to contribute positively to their surroundings, ensuring a virtuous cycle of goodwill and positivity.

Spiritual Alignment and Harmony: Altruistic behavior can also facilitate deeper spiritual alignment and harmony. By acting in ways that are considerate of others and aligned with universal values of compassion and kindness, individuals may find themselves more in tune with these principles, experiencing a heightened sense of peace and spiritual fulfillment. This alignment often encourages a more mindful, conscious approach to life, where one's actions are consistently reflective of their deepest values and beliefs. Engaging in good deeds can thus be a transformative process, aligning one's actions with their spiritual ideals and fostering a profound inner harmony.

Man in ancient Greek attire grinding fenugreek in a courtyard.

How to Incorporate Good Deeds into Everyday Life

Integrating good deeds into your daily routine can be both fulfilling and impactful. Here are some practical tips and ideas to help you weave altruism into the fabric of your everyday life:

  1. Small things count: Even small, manageable acts of kindness that can have a massive impact on people. This could be as simple as saying good morning, offering compliments, or holding doors open for others, paying for a strangers coffee, and so on.

  2. Set a Daily Goal: Challenge yourself to perform at least one good deed each day. Whether it’s helping a colleague with a task, picking up litter, or making a point to thank service workers, these small acts can accumulate into significant impacts.

  3. Offer Your Skills: Utilise your professional skills for a good cause. Offer free services or advice in areas where you specialise to those who might not otherwise have access to such resources.

  4. Support Causes Financially: If time is a constraint, consider setting up regular donations to charities or causes you care about. Even small contributions on a regular basis can make a big difference.

  5. Be Kind to the Environment: Practising sustainability is a form of good deed toward the planet. Simple actions like recycling, reducing water usage, and choosing public transportation can have a profound effect on environmental health.

  6. Random Acts of Kindness: Keep an eye out for opportunities to help spontaneously. Sometimes the most memorable good deeds are the ones that are unplanned and arise from a genuine response to someone in need.

Conclusion: Benefits of Good Deeds

The benefits of performing good deeds are extensive, spanning mental, physical, social, and spiritual well-being. These actions not only enhance one's health and prolong life but also strengthen community ties, inspire others, and foster personal growth. However, embracing altruism doesn't necessitate being overly nice to the extent of compromising one's own boundaries or becoming a pushover. It's important to maintain a balance, ensuring that kindness is practised with discernment and self-respect.

As the practice of doing good becomes ingrained in one's psyche, a remarkable phenomenon occurs: like attracts like. Genuine positivity (don’t fake it) and generosity, you are more likely to draw similar energies and people into your life, creating a circle of goodwill and mutual support. This does not mean that every act of kindness will be reciprocated immediately or directly, but rather that the overall quality of your interactions and experiences can improve significantly over time.

Ultimately, integrating good deeds into daily life should be about enhancing your world and the world around you, not about self-sacrifice to the point of personal detriment. By finding the right balance, you can live a life that is not only generous but also rich and rewarding.

References and Further Reading:

1. The Science of Generosity

The white paper from the Greater Good Science Center explores the biological and psychological roots of generosity, indicating it's an evolutionary trait linked to numerous health and well-being benefits, and outlines how various factors influence this behaviour across human societies.

2. Doing Good, Can do you Good

Research from the University of Oxford suggests that engaging in acts of kindness and volunteering can have measurable health benefits for the doer, potentially improving mental well-being, reducing stress, and enhancing physical health. These benefits may be linked to evolutionary adaptations, where helping others activates parts of the brain associated with dopamine and serotonin production, promoting feelings of happiness and reward.

3. Is volunteering a public health intervention?

The study conducted by Caroline E Jenkinson and colleagues from the University of Exeter and published in BMC Public Health, systematically reviews the health benefits of volunteering. It suggests that volunteering may improve mental health and reduce mortality risks among volunteers.

4. Effect of volunteering on risk factors for cardiovascular disease in adolescents:

In a randomised controlled trial by Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 106 tenth-grade students volunteered with elementary school-aged children or joined a control group. Results showed significant reductions in interleukin 6 levels, cholesterol, and body mass index among volunteers, suggesting health benefits from volunteering activities.

5. When Do Good Deeds Lead to Good Feelings?

The study from Zhejiang University found that individuals with a high eudaimonic orientation, which focuses on meaningful life pursuits, experience more happiness from prosocial behaviors than those with a lower orientation. This suggests that personal value alignment enhances well-being.

6. Kindness Matters Guide

The "Kindness Matters Guide" by the Mental Health Foundation highlights the positive impact of kindness on mental health, suggesting simple acts of kindness can enhance well-being and social connections

7. Does social connection turn good deeds into good feelings?

The article titled "Does social connection turn good deeds into good feelings? On the value of putting the 'social' in prosocial spending" explores the impact of social connections on the psychological benefits of prosocial spending. The study suggests that engaging in prosocial spending within a social context can enhance the emotional rewards of such actions, potentially increasing feelings of happiness and well-being due to strengthened social bonds.

8. Doing good deeds helps socially anxious people relax

A study from Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia found that performing acts of kindness can reduce social anxiety by promoting positive social interactions. Socially anxious individuals who engaged in kind deeds experienced reduced avoidance of social situations, helping them feel less threatened when interacting with others.

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Image of Pard, the Author

Author: Pard Bharaj

I am a dedicated researcher with nearly a decade of experience in investigating health best practices. My journey in the health and wellness field has been driven by a passion for understanding and sharing the most effective ways to maintain and improve health. Over the years, I have delved into a wide range of topics, constantly seeking out the latest research and insights. My commitment is to provide well-researched, accurate, and trustworthy information to help readers make informed decisions about their health.

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