To Feel Good, Do Good


This post is based on my inspiration at the November meeting of the Palos Verdes Chapter of National Charity League.

Here are a few things to give thanks for – Fall weather. Football. Fireplaces. Finally!

Our president Francine Mathiesen is a great model of this year’s theme of “Being The Good.” And Thanksgiving is great for doing good.

NCL is full of opportunities – turkey dinners for Boys & Girls Club, meals at LA Food Bank, time with children at Peace4Kids, and more.

And by doing good, you’ll feel good. People who are givers are happier. You already know this, but it’s worth a reminder.

Why? Because of the “happiness curve.” People start life out happy, but then a funny thing happens.

Happiness hits rock bottom in the 40s and early 50s. The global average is 46. So be happy if you’re past that age, because you’re already on the upswing.

One theory is teenagers are a drag on happiness. The Economist asked, “Could the misery of the middle-aged be the consequence of sharing space with angry adolescents?”

In our house, we turned the “angry adolescent” phrase into a joke when one of our teens is in a bad mood. It lightens up heavy moments.

That brings me to a great book. Who’s read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project?

She took a year to experiment with becoming happier. Each month she had a new focus – boosting energy, remembering love, making time for friends, and so on.

She’s a wife, a mother of two daughters, and a lawyer. When she clerked with Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, she realized she wanted to be a writer.

You might enjoy doing your own happiness project in 2016.

She starts by sharing her “Secrets of Adulthood.” Here are my favorites:

  1. People don’t notice your mistakes as much as you think
  2. Most decisions don’t require extensive research
  3. It’s important to be nice to everyone
  4. By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished
  5. If you can’t find something, clean up
  6. You don’t have to be good at everything
  7. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough
  8. People actually prefer that you buy wedding gifts off their registry
  9. You can’t profoundly change your children’s natures by nagging them or signing them up for classes
  10. Do good, feel good – because one of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy.

So how did I try doing good? As a start, my family had fun putting together Thanksgiving dinners for the local Boys & Girls Club.

What else brought joy was helping a friend.

She’s self-employed as a manicurist and comes to Los Angeles once a week to work. The hotel where she stays raised its rates, so she asked for my advice about increasing her own.

Instead, I suggested we check out Airbnb. There have to be lots of people in the area with an affordable extra room or guesthouse.

We downloaded the app together, did a search and found some great-looking options.

The smile on her face made my day.

That’s the kind of happiness project Gretchen Rubin advocates.

While she was inspired by other happiness projects – Henry David Thoreau’s move to Walden Pond and Elizabeth Gilbert’s travels in Eat, Pray, Love – she didn’t want to reject her everyday life.

Here’s what she said: “I wanted to change my life without changing my life, by finding more happiness in my own kitchen. I knew I wouldn’t discover happiness in a faraway place or in unusual circumstances.

“It was right here, right now – as in the haunting play The Blue Bird, where two children spend a year searching the world for the Blue Bird of Happiness, only to find the bird waiting for them when they finally return home.”


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Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, How to Build Your Career through Social Media, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

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