If there’s one thing I’m certain of, it’s this:

When you lift up others, you lift up yourself.

Giving to others is good for us.  There is now lots of research support for this phenomenon (including that giving might even help us live longer), but I think most of us implicitly know this.  We pay someone a visit, shovel out a neighbor’s yard, find that extra special gift…these things make us feel good.

Giving doesn’t have to be a big gesture - many times it’s the intention and oomph behind our action that really counts.  On a busy day at the store as you finally approach the checkout clerk, paste a huge smile on your face and REALLY wish them a good day.  Watch their eyes light up as you genuinely smile and ask them how they are doing.  It’s a small thing, but it shifts both of you into a different space in that moment.

Giving to others ranks right up there with gratitude and optimism as some of the best funk busters around.  Feeling down?  I urge you to go to the store, pick out a card and write a friend a note just saying hello.  By the time that note gets a stamp placed on it, you will feel better.

These are not fancy psychological techniques that require treatment or training; they are things all of us can do each day to improve our own mental health.  They are tried and true, but often forgotten on the days we feel the worst.  So I urge you to build up your mental muscle memory to think about others when you find yourself feeling down.  Make it a habit to do something to help another whenever you don’t feel well yourself and you will find yourself feeling better more quickly.

The bonus is that whomever you are helping, or grinning at, or sending a letter to, will feel better, too.  A win for everyone.