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Reach Out, Feel Good 

Editor's Note: Flourishing by helping others

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It's easy to feel put-upon by the seemingly endless details of our daily lives. Frustrations mount, and suddenly we're just not happy. "I need some me-time!" is a common outcry.

But beware that it might not provide the oomph you're looking for. A study published this spring looked at nearly 500 subjects who were assigned to one of several groups. Some performed acts of kindness for the world or others, from volunteering to picking up litter; some performed acts of kindness to themselves, like taking a day off; and a control group was advised to just go on about their regular lives.

Afterwards, subjects filled out questionnaires on their well-being. The participants who "helped out" showed improvements in "flourishing" — with improved positive thoughts and decreased negative emotions. The other groups had no gains. The authors say, "People striving for happiness may be tempted to treat themselves. Our results, however, suggest that they may be more successful if they opt to treat someone else instead."

Our cover story features local folks who have gone to great lengths to lend a hand. But there's plenty to be done right here in the Inland Northwest. Next time you're feeling "in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes," as Shakespeare so perfectly stated, consider reaching out instead of looking in. Go to spokanecares.org to be matched to a volunteer opportunity. Or just treat someone to a cup of coffee. It'll do you good.

To your health!

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