Have you ever experienced a feeling of happiness or calm after helping a friend or volunteering with a local organization? That feeling was a chemical response in your brain that resulted from you performing an act of service.
Humans are, by nature, social creatures and the brain likes to reward us for helping others. In fact, the brain likes to reward us even when we do an act of service that doesn’t involve other people. Volunteering at a local animal shelter will also alert the brain to give you a hit of dopamine – the feel-good neurotransmitter. The brain does this because it knows that you are still contributing in a meaningful way to your community and thus feel connected to your community.
Even though we live in a hyper-connected environment where we can communicate with someone with a few taps on our phones, many people often experience stress and a feeling of loneliness. This is because, while we are technically connected, we don’t necessary feel connected. The good news is that next time you are experiencing stress or loneliness, doing something to help others, as long as you feel personally invested or connected, will help.
To learn more about the social brain, check out our new book Starting Point: An Introduction to Social Emotional Health for Adults. This book was designed specifically with adults in mind and combines information and activities that allow you to implement social emotional health practices into your everyday life.