The hidden joys of putting others first: 9 life-changing benefits

Graeme Richards by Graeme Richards | June 11, 2024, 11:34 pm

There’s a profound difference between living for yourself and living for others.

It’s all about perspective. Living for yourself often involves striving for personal success, with a focus on self-gratification.

Living for others, however, uncovers a hidden joy that many overlook. It’s about prioritizing others’ needs before your own, and finding happiness in their happiness.

Putting others first isn’t just a noble act; it can truly transform your life in ways you never imagined. And trust me, there are certain life-changing benefits that come along with it.

Here are some reasons to start incorporating this selfless act into your life, which I’ve discovered through my own journey. You’d be surprised at the joy it can bring.

1) Amplified happiness

There’s something uniquely gratifying about seeing someone else’s face light up because of your actions.

When you put others first, their happiness becomes your happiness. It’s a shared joy that’s contagious and uplifting.

This isn’t merely an observation, it’s backed by science too. Studies have shown that helping others triggers a release of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes feelings of warmth, empathy, and happiness.

Consider it as the universe’s way of rewarding us for our selflessness. It’s a simple concept, yet it holds profound implications for our well-being.

So next time you’re feeling down, try doing something nice for someone else. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your mood can change.

And remember, the smallest act of kindness can have the biggest impact. So never underestimate the power of putting others first in creating your own happiness.

2) Personal growth

Trust me when I say that putting others first can lead to unexpected personal growth.

I remember a time when I was asked to mentor a young intern at work. Initially, I was hesitant. My schedule was already packed and the thought of adding another responsibility seemed daunting.

But I decided to put the intern’s needs before my own reservations. And surprisingly, it turned out to be one of the most enriching experiences for me.

As I guided him through his tasks, I found myself revisiting foundational concepts I had assumed I knew thoroughly. It forced me to challenge my understanding and pushed me out of my comfort zone.

Moreover, seeing his progress and knowing that I played a part in it brought immense satisfaction.

Through this experience, I learned that when we put others first, we often end up discovering new aspects about ourselves and enhancing our own skills in the process. It’s a win-win situation that I wouldn’t have discovered if I hadn’t chosen to prioritize someone else’s needs over my initial hesitation.

3) Improved relationships

Putting others first can significantly strengthen your relationships. It fosters a sense of trust, empathy, and mutual respect that forms the bedrock of any strong relationship.

Interestingly, research from the University of Cambridge found that acts of kindness and generosity, which are key components of putting others first, were top determinants of a successful relationship, even above other factors like conflict resolution and sexual compatibility.

So, whether it’s in a friendship, family bond or romantic relationship, prioritizing others’ needs can foster deeper connections and lead to healthier, more fulfilling relationships. It’s an investment that yields long-term benefits for both parties involved.

4) Enhances self-esteem

Believe it or not, putting others first can actually be a major boost to your self-esteem.

When you help others, you’re affirming your ability to make a positive impact. This can significantly increase your sense of self-worth and confidence.

Psychologists suggest that prosocial behavior – actions intended to benefit others – can lead to a positive feedback loop of high self-esteem and generosity.

In simpler terms, when you put others first, you feel good about yourself. And when you feel good about yourself, you’re more likely to continue putting others first.

It’s a cycle of positivity that starts with a simple act of prioritizing someone else’s needs above your own. Not only does it benefit others, but it also enhances your own self-esteem in the process.

5) Embracing gratitude

It’s easy to get caught up in our own needs and desires. But when we shift our focus to others, we start to truly appreciate what we have.

Putting others first often involves understanding their struggles and empathizing with their situations. This perspective can make us more aware of the blessings in our own lives.

For instance, helping those less fortunate can make us appreciate our own comforts and privileges. It promotes a sense of gratitude for what we have, rather than a constant desire for what we don’t.

So, by prioritizing others, we not only contribute to their well-being but also cultivate a deeper sense of gratitude in our own lives.

6) Fostering a sense of purpose

In the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters. We often get so caught up in personal achievements and material gains that we overlook the importance of meaningful connections and selfless acts.

But when you put others first, you’re aligning yourself with a greater purpose. You’re creating a positive impact, making a difference in other people’s lives, and contributing to something bigger than yourself.

This sense of purpose can fill your life with meaning and satisfaction that material possessions simply can’t provide. It reminds you that the value of life isn’t measured by what you have, but by what you give.

So, if you’re searching for purpose or feeling lost, try shifting your focus from yourself to others. You might find that the key to fulfillment lies not in getting, but in giving.

7) Unearthing inner peace

There was a time in my life when I was constantly chasing after success and recognition. I was driven by a desire to prove myself, and in the process, I lost touch with who I really was.

It was only when I started putting others first that I found a sense of calm and contentment. Helping others made me realize that my worth isn’t defined by external achievements, but by the kindness and compassion I bring to the world.

This shift in perspective brought an unexpected peace within me. It alleviated the pressures I had put on myself and replaced them with a sense of fulfillment derived from serving others.

Putting others first, I discovered, is not just about making others happy. It’s also about finding tranquility within ourselves, by aligning our actions with our deepest values and beliefs.

8) Cultivating compassion

One of the most profound benefits of putting others first is the development of compassion.

Compassion is about understanding others’ struggles and wanting to alleviate their suffering. And there’s no better way to cultivate this virtue than by prioritizing others’ needs and well-being.

When we put others first, we put ourselves in their shoes. We see the world from their perspective. This nurtures empathy and compassion within us, making us kinder and more understanding individuals.

Not only does this make us better at supporting others, but it also makes us more forgiving and patient with ourselves. After all, compassion isn’t just about understanding others, it’s also about recognizing our own struggles and treating ourselves with kindness.

9) Inspiring change

The beauty of putting others first is that it has the power to inspire change, not just in your own life, but in the lives of those around you.

Your actions can motivate others to act with the same kindness and selflessness. This ripple effect can gradually transform your environment, creating a more empathetic and supportive community.

By putting others first, you’re not just making a difference in their lives – you’re also setting a precedent for others to follow.

Remember, change often starts small. And sometimes, all it takes is one person’s selfless act to inspire a wave of kindness in the world.

Final reflections: A life of giving

The art of putting others first taps into a fundamental aspect of human nature – our capacity for empathy and kindness.

This selfless act, as simple as it may seem, has a profound impact not only on the lives of those we help but also on our own lives. It presents us with a unique opportunity to grow personally, to build stronger relationships, and to find a sense of purpose that extends beyond our own needs and desires.

The words of celebrated author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar echo this sentiment: “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want.”

In essence, by putting others first, we’re creating a more empathetic and compassionate world, while reaping the benefits of increased happiness, gratitude, self-esteem, and inner peace.

So, as you navigate through life’s ups and downs, remember the hidden joy and transformative power that lies in prioritizing others. Your act of kindness might just be the beacon of hope someone needs or the ripple that inspires change in your community. And in the process, you might discover a deeper sense of fulfillment and purpose in your own life.