in Articles, Doing Good

Is the state of the world bringing you down? Been staring at an Excel sheet for so long that you’re wondering just what you’re doing with your life? Don’t worry, we all have those days. Sometimes, it’s a sign you need a well-deserved treat for yourself. But other times, maybe it’s time to start giving.

Take a break and learn 3 equations that might not work in Excel, but are certainly backed up by science! It’s time to get out of that slump. Ready? Let’s go.

1. Do Good = Feel Good

Long ago, a Greek philosopher named Aristotle defined happiness as “eudaimonia,” a word that basically means “living life to its full potential.”

This is the feeling of fulfilment that you get when you:

  • volunteer your time to whatever cause you’re passionate about, like one of the many positions posted on
  • give money to a person in need, whether through online platforms like or in person
  • saying “Thank You!” to the stranger who held the lift door open for you
  • listening to your best friend’s problems with her boss at work

Compare this to things that give you a moment’s pleasure purely for yourself, like:

  •  buying the latest iPhone 9s Plus for yourself
  • getting the best seats in the house for the Coldplay concert
  • eating five Burger Bakar in a row just because it’s so amazingly delicious
a lot of burger bakar.

They’re ALL mine. Credit: chloetiffanylee

In this study, 65 undergraduates were asked to keep an online diary, recording their activities for 22 days every day. On both the first and last day, they were also asked to answer questions that aimed to measure how satisfied they were with their lives. The researchers then analysed the data to answer the question – what makes you happier: Aristotle’s eudaimonia or treating yourself?

And… Aristotle was right!!! Yup, science showed that there was a strong relationship between activities that gave you “eudaimonia” with greater life satisfaction AND meaning in life. On the other hand, self-pleasuring activities (or the second group) were “generally unrelated to well-being” and only slightly related to satisfaction.


Look at Aristotle’s big smile.

Interested in the results? The article was published in the Journal of Research in Personality – read it for yourself and get some research inspiration.

2. Money ≠ Buying Happiness? Depends On How You Spend It!

So say smart people Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton, along with fellow academics Elizabeth Dunn and Lara Ankin. The first two professors would later write a book based on their study called Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, but we know you probably don’t have the time, so here’s a 10-minute TED talk by Professor Norton himself instead.

What we learned:

  • When people were given $20 to spend it on others, they were happier than if they were told to spend it on themselves.
  • When they were given $5 to spend it on others, they felt just as happy as those given $20 to spend on others.
  • Spending on others even boosts business performance!
  • This was proven in the US, Uganda and, from survey data, virtually EVERYWHERE.

Awesome? Awesome.

3. Helping Others x Paying It Forward = A Cycle of Happiness

Think about the last time you watched a heartwarming video of a kind soul doing something good. Or when you saw someone take out some money to donate to a makcik asking for help. You know the fuzzy feeling we’re talking about? This one:


Translation: THE FEELS

Dr. Simone Schnall, a psychologist  at Cambridge University, led a study to see if that feeling of having your faith in humanity restored actually resulted in action. She conducted an experiment where different group of students were shown either a funny video, a nature documentary or Oprah giving away things for free:

Oprah's Great Car Giveaway

They found that those who had just watched the Oprah clip were much likelier to help on a given task. In other words, when you help others, those around you are also motivated to contribute too!

You can read the results of this study published in Psychological Science. We’ll let Dr. Schnall conclude this post with this quote:

“Human nature is essentially good. And this study proves that seeing good things actually makes us better.”

Did this post motivate you to do good? Comment below with your own real-life examples of how helping others has helped you! We’ll collect the best responses and share them in a future post on the Skolafund blog. Now get out there and #SpreadHappiness.

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