Helping feels better when you want to help

Dr. Heidi Grant writes in Reinforcements:

There’s an inherent paradox in asking someone for their help: while help freely and enthusiastically given makes the helper feel good, researchers have found that the emotional benefits of providing help to others disappear when people feel controlled—when they are instructed to help, when they believe that they should help, or when they feel they simply have no choice but to help.4

In other words, a sense of personal agency—that you are helping because you want to—is essential for reaping the psychological benefits of giving support.

Something to be mindful of as you’re helping someone (or trying to understand why you had a negative experience of helping someone), or if you give people a chance to help and hope to provide them with an experience or memory.

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