When you do a good deed for someone, you make their day a little better. Research shows that doing something nice for others can make your day a little better too.
When a craving hits, try distracting yourself for a few minutes by being helpful to a friend, family member, co-worker, or complete stranger. Put your neighbor’s newspaper on the porch when you’re out walking your dog. Make a kind comment to the grocery store checkout person, whose last customer was grumpy. Hold the door for someone with their hands full. Actions like these let you focus on another person’s needs. This makes it easier to focus less on your own for a moment and cope with a craving until it passes. Good deeds like these take very little time, cost you nothing, and help both of you feel good. Plus, good deeds can have benefits beyond helping you beat the urge to smoke.
Doing a good deed helps you focus your thoughts outward toward others. It helps you take a step outside your own world for a little while. Performing good deeds can have positive effects on your health, like reducing stress. Managing stress can be a key part of quitting smoking. Being caring toward others helps you reduce your own stress and may even help you live longer! That makes being kind to others a great smokefree way to deal with stress.
Good deeds are done on purpose. That’s different from not doing something you might normally do, like not screaming at another driver who cuts you off. That doesn’t count as a good deed. Some good deeds take planning. Planning helps you pay attention and be mindful of the good deed you’re doing. It also helps you be mindful of the other person’s needs. You might help friends or family members by running errands or helping with child care. Make some cookies for a person who did you a favor. Clean the house or cook dinner for an older friend or relative. Good deeds like these take some planning and help you understand what makes the other person happy.
You also can do good deeds for total strangers to make their lives a little better. Or giving up some of your free time to volunteer, whether it’s serving at a soup kitchen, cleaning up litter, or taking elderly people to the grocery store.
Bonus: Studies show that one good deed leads to another. If you perform a generous or kind act, you are likely to be happier. The happier you feel, the more likely you are to do another kind act.