Compassion, in addition to making an incredible difference to those around you, is also one of the greatest secrets to health and happiness (as I described in this post). We know that helping others makes us feel good, but sometimes it feels like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to engage in any kind of altruism. There is so much to do, can I possibly find time to contribute? Yes! In minutes, at no or low cost, and from your desk, you can contribute.

1. Lend a few dollars, change someone’s life. Lend money on a micro finance portal, help people from around the world achieve their dreams in as little as $5 or $10 loans. Watch as that person grows their business and transform their lives. Check out websites like for micro loans that you will see change others lives or Heifer International to gift a farm animal that will help a family self-sustain in a developing country.

2. Free clicks to help. The GreaterGood website is set up to help people make a difference in a few seconds. Through just one click and with no cost on your part, you can help feed animals, fight breast cancer, autism, or hunger, support veterans, help rain forests and more. Bookmark these sites and spend a few seconds clicking to start your day on the right foot. You can also purchase inexpensive items from the website’s stores to contribute funds to the cause of your choosing.

3. Express your gratitude. Gratitude will not only benefit others but it will also benefit you. Gratitude has been linked to higher well-being and lower depression. There are family members, colleagues or even just acquaintances that we see daily and appreciate yet we forget to tell them. Thank people for what they do, not just as lip service, but sincerely. If you are too shy to do so, send a thank you email or letter, a small gift or even flowers. Such gestures can go a long way.

4. Smile. Research shows that when you smile (whether it’s a real or fake) you feel better, reduce your own stress, but also uplift others! How? Research shows that your smile activates the smile muscles in others. Ever had that awkward moment where you walk down the hall, smile at someone, and they don’t smile back? Sure, you might feel embarrassed, but don’t! Internally, you have made them smile and chances are, they may smile at the next person they meet down that hall.

5. Uplift others. Look around and make someone’s day. It doesn’t take much. Post an uplifting quote or story on Facebook, buy someone a cup of coffee, ask someone how they are and listen to them with full attention, or pay for the person behind you at a Starbucks drive-thru. Not only will you make their day and feel good yourself, research shows that anyone who witnesses your act of kindness will feels elevated and, by feeling so, be more likely to then help others.   Warning: you may be creating a vicious circle of kindness and compassion!

I recently gave a TEDx talk on why compassion is one of the greatest ways secrets to happiness, you can watch it here.

Do you have other great tips on how to do good fast and from your desk for busy people? Leave me a comment and I’ll add it in!

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Dr. Emma Seppala

Associate Director at CCARE
Emma Seppala is the Associate Director at CCARE as well as a Research Scientist and Honorary Fellow with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Investigating Healthy Minds. Her areas of expertise are health psychology, well-being, and resilience. She has examined the impact of meditation on happiness, social connection, and compassion.