Giving to others can give you a feeling of purpose and enrich your life. Whether you donate time, money or services, it's not as important as the fact that you're helping others have a better life. A study from the University of British Columbia showed that spending money on others usually makes people happier than spending that money on themselves [source: BBC News]. Helping others doesn't have to be about big, life-changing events either. Walking the dog for a sick friend, visiting an elderly neighbor or helping a friend quit smoking can all increase your sense of well-being.
Tal Ben-Shahar, who teaches a course on happiness at Harvard, always asks his students to do five small acts of kindness a day and record how they feel afterward. Invariably, students report they're happier the day after, and that happiness sometimes lasts longer than 24 hours [source: NPR]. So open the door for an elderly person, give change to the homeless, say please and thank you and feed a stray dog. Small acts of kindness don't take much time or effort but can make a world of difference for both you and the recipients.