Helping Others to Help Ourselves from “The Undefeated Mind” by Alex Lickerman



“Research now shows what many of us know from experience to be true: taking action to alleviate the suffering of others helps us better manage our own.


In one study by researchers Carolyn Schwartz and Meir Sendor, patients with multiple sclerosis who were asked to call other patients with multiple sclerosis each month for a year to offer their support in any way they could reported significantly higher levels of adaptability, confidence, tolerance, and self-esteem than the patients they were calling.


Something about trying to help others, they said, made them feel better able to manage problems themselves.


Why might this be? One possibility, suggest Schwartz and Sendor, is that focusing on the problems of others alters the way we see ourselves in relation to our own.


Thinking about a problem we have in the context of someone else’s life, divorced from how it impacts us, may open up avenues of creative thinking and produce ideas about managing it that would otherwise have remained obscured by our emotional reluctance to apply that same creative thinking to ourselves.


Further, the better we feel, according to the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotion, the more resourceful, and therefore the more resilient, we become.


And helping others has clearly and repeatedly been shown to possess an almost-unequaled ability to make us feel good:


according to Schwartz and Sendor, the patients making the calls were found to experience more than a sevenfold increase in well-being than the patients receiving them.”




4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Alex Lickerman on April 6, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    You’ve lifted this post almost verbatim from my book, “The Undefeated Mind,” without attribution. Can you correct that, please?

  2. It is In the title

    Helping others to Help themselves from the Undefeated Mind

    Did you miss that

    Excellent book

    I added your name also

  3. Posted by Linda on April 6, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    We are truely social creatures. We are connected. When we help or even kindly be with another it is impossible to not lift ourself up with the other.

  4. Nice

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