July 27, 2015 12:01 AM EDT
Barker is the author of Barking Up The Wrong Tree

I’ve posted a number of times about how helping others makes you happier. But I know this leaves some people scratching their heads:

How much should I help others? How often? Will I be exploited? Will I end up resenting people I love if they don’t reciprocate?

We all know selfless givers who are taken advantage of and taken for granted. Nobody wants to feel like a sucker.

So this simple thing doesn’t seem so simple — and it feels safer to just be selfish no matter what fancy research and your conscience might tell you.

Adam Grant has a wonderful book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, which directly tackles this issue and provides some firm answers grounded in research. To help others the right way, give these tips a shot.


Constant Selfless Giving Is Not The Way

Being a martyr stresses you out and is actually bad for your health.

Via Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success:


Chunking Beats Sprinkling

Want to be happier? Do all your giving one day a week.

Via Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success:

And this is exactly why selfless givers end us stressed out and overloaded.

Via Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success:


So How Much Should You Give?

Remember The 100 Hour Rule. One hundred hours a year — in other words, 2 hours per week.

Via Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success:


What’s The Best Kind Of Giving To Do?

A kind that is meaningful to you. No, you can’t fake it if you want the benefits.

Via Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success:


Sum Up

Breaking it down:

  1. To be happier and healthier you need to give to others.
  2. Don’t be a martyr. Constant selfless giving is not the answer.
  3. 100 hrs a year is the minimum to increase happiness, so do about 2 hrs per week or a little more.
  4. You need to do it because you want to, so find a way to help others that is meaningful to you.
  5. It’s better to cluster those activities than to spread them out.

What do I personally plan to do? I’m going to designate a DAY OF GIVING per week and make sure I’m clustering my 2hrs of meaningful helping.

In a few weeks I’ll post my results. Please give it a try yourself and let me know how it works for you. You can write me here.

This is going to be fun. :)

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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