JOYkwondo Exercise #22: Give Joy to Get Joy

Through fMRI technology, scientists have discovered that giving actually activates the same parts of your brain that are stimulated by food and sex. The caudate, nucleus accumbens and insula are the areas of your brain that release the “pleasure chemical” called dopamine– the same parts that respond when you eat a dessert or receive money!

Altruism is the practice of concern for the happiness of others, resulting in a richer quality of life. The idea that altruism behaves like a “miracle drug” has been around for decades. We legitimately experience a euphoric feeling when we help others. It’s called the “helper’s high,” a term first introduced 20 years ago to explain the physical sensation associated with helping others. It’s a classic example of nature’s built-in reward system for those who help others. Experiments show evidence that altruism is hardwired in our brains to be pleasurable. Helping others may just be the secret to living a life that is not only happier but also healthier, wealthier, more productive, and more meaningful.

Watch this short Ted Talk to find out more!

joykwondo Exercise

Do something nice for someone today. If you already know that someone’s love language, that’ll help you come up with an idea that is particularly wonderful for them. Give your kid some candy. Wash your mom’s car. Play fetch with your dog! It doesn’t matter what act of kindness you do, the importance is that you do something that truly brings that someone joy.

The more important part of this training exercise today is for you to experience the joy you feel in return. Notice how all of your stresses seem to become smaller or completely melt away. Notice how alive and known you feel. Breathe it in and commit the feeling to memory. Notice how quickly the act of kindness toward someone else actually elevated your mood as a result!

Report your findings in the comments section below. Make sure to keep a copy of your report in your portfolio as well. You may even want to add the experience to your joy journal unless you’ve already got something else in mind for today’s entry.

Photo by vjapratama on

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