The new year is upon us—and unfortunately, a few extra pounds are upon many of us as well. But before you resolve to eat less, exercise more, and get fit in 2016, take a minute to enlarge your vision for the year. Self-improvement is great—but keep in mind that giving to others is among the best means of helping yourself. “The best way to activate positive emotion circuits in the brain is through generosity,” Richard Davidson, the founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at University of Wisconsin, Madison, says. Some research suggests that generosity and compassion boosts one’s immunities, too.
In other words, if you want to have a great 2016, make generosity a regular practice.
It’s not that hard; generosity can take many forms. You can spend time with a loved one who needs you, volunteer at a soup kitchen or school, or donate to a worthy organization. Don’t forget that sharing your positive outlook counts, too: don’t be stingy with those smiles!
If you need further inspiration, take a cue from own personal heroes: forests.
Forests do so much for humanity: they clean the air, store carbon (a service we desperately need if we want to slow climate change), and they provide homes to wildlife and livelihoods to indigenous communities (some of whom are actively working to remove emissions for all our benefit).
In fact, when you are thinking of ways to extend your generosity in 2016, please consider giving back to the trees. When you help protect forests, you are helping to improve the lives and livelihoods of local people and conserving precious flora and wildlife. Your generosity will come back to you many times over–with activated “positive emotion circuits” and a healthier planet.