How To Feel High In Life Without Drugs


Looking for inexpensive, healthy, admirable ways to feel high in life?

Things you can do in public with no recrimination?

Things that others can be lured into participation without even knowing it?


Then look no further.

Your drug of choice is easily accessible, easily shared, and quite potent:



Yes, acts of kindness.

See, as explained by James Baraz,

“Psychologists have identified a typical state of euphoria reported by those engaged in charitable activity. They call it “helper’s high,” and it’s based on the theory that giving produces endorphins in the brain that provide a mild version of a morphine high.”

(“The Helper’s High”, James Baraz and Shoshana Alexander, Greater Good Magazine, February 2010)


A morphine high, wow!

Giving or helping others = a positive emotional state of being.

Makes it sound so simple! Can it be so?

Sounds like the types of things that should come second nature to folks: things that should not need to be purposefully planned or executed.

But in order for such acts to be second nature, we need to be aware of one another, and more and more these days it is apparent that we are walking in our own little bubbles.

In our own busy worlds we are focused on our next steps, final destination, text messages, chores, etc. We are so driven by our personal daily missions that we forge ahead, blinded to all that exists outside of our own quest, falling short of noticing other people and opportunities along the way.

Does this sound familiar to you?

Are you missing out on experiencing the unfailing, natural, fulfilling highs of life (like making adventurous memories with your BFF?), and instead replacing them with short-lived, contrived, less satisfying highs (perhaps that ice cream sundae when you are lactose intolerant)?

Do yourself a favor and bring a little natural euphoria into your life.

Try out a few of these acts of kindness, see how easy it is, and notice what happens.



I know this sounds so trivial, but have you ever actually really, really noticed how a smile changes the vibe of almost anything?  Most times seeing a smile will pull someone out of their own world and be effortlessly returned. They can be having a tough day, see your smile, accept it, appreciate it and return it, and for three seconds their tough day becomes a little brighter.

A smile takes only a moment. It is a universal action of acknowledgment and needs no words, so you can impart it anywhere in the world. It is free. It is contagious. And everyone involved is gifted the joy of connecting with another human being.

So go ahead, smile at people.


Do an anonymous favor

Every once in a while, I come home from work on Tuesday evenings and my garbage and recycling bins are waiting by my garage door. Someone has carried my now-empty vessels up from the bottom of my driveway. I do not know who does this, but each time it happens I smile and let out a hearty “Thank you!” in case they are listening from afar.

There is something about anonymous acts of kindness. Making and taking the opportunity to do something for the pure sake of doing it, for the sake of doing it for a particular someone else. makes the whole action feel a bit more magical.

Doing an anonymous favor truly demonstrates kindness at its core: being kind because you want to be kind, not because you want something in return from someone.

Although, of course, you do get something in return…that burst of joy!


Acknowledge others

It is kind to notice others.

A nod of the head, a smile, a wave, a handshake, a hug; making eye contact: these all help a person feel validated in their presence. These actions help them become more aware of themselves, of others and of their surroundings.

It might also involve words, as in saying “Hello” as you pass by one another or complimenting their action or accomplishment.

Many people feel invisible and unseen. Your act of recognition builds a bond and brightens a day, even if only for a short time.

And when they hug you back or say hello, is your day not a little brighter too?

I know my day is as I watch my three-year-old friend make his way down the hall each morning at school, face lighting up as he races to each teacher he sees and gives them a big hug.


Share your gratitude

Remember those “magic words” from your childhood, “Please” and “Thank you”?

They are magic for a reason.

Using these words is an acknowledgment of another person’s role in a situation.

When you acknowledge someone for what they say, do, or are, that infinite cycle of giving and receiving is strengthened and amplified. These words also show your respect for the person and how they have impacted your day. They show your gratitude for others.

The act of sharing your gratitude induces a joyful feeling in the recipient as well as in you.


Listen and hear

The value of listening and hearing is often overlooked.

Face it, with all that is buzzing and alerting and speeding by you in any given moment, it can be challenging to really focus in and listen, beginning to end, to a conversation.

Listening to and really hearing what others are saying demands that you slow yourself down, quiet your mind, and give your attention freely. That is a lot to ask in this go, go, go world! And that is exactly why being willing to do that is such a gift, to yourself and the recipient.

In the moments when you do allow yourself to listen and hear, you feel a deeper connection to the others in the conversation. You see them as multi-dimensional people.

Giving another the gift of your undivided attention is priceless, to both parties.



I am sure you have had plenty of volunteering opportunities appear in your life, all the way from helping the teacher clean the boards in grade school to shopping for an elderly neighbor to organizing community events.

As you know, and may have experienced, volunteering comes in many forms.

Volunteering is an act of kindness. It is giving of yourself without being expected to. It is doing something because you want to; wanting to be a part of something larger than yourself.

Take the opportunity to volunteer as often as you can. As Robert Ingersoll said, “We rise by lifting others.”


Those are not so tough, are they?


As you try out a few of these actions, pay special attention to what happens.

How do you feel initiating the action?

How long does your burst of euphoria last? Does it last longer each time?

Do you find yourself motivated to repeat acts of kindness more often?

Do you find others motivated to repeat or initiate acts of kindness also?


Performing acts of kindness is second nature.

You have heard of “unconditional love”, right?

Now embrace “unconditional kindness” as part of your daily life.

Embrace your “helper’s high”.

Live – aware of yourself and the impact your kindness can have on both others and you.

Live life with an infinite supply of euphoria at your fingertips.



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If the sun is shining, my Crosstrek is calling me to fill up her tank, throw open her sunroof, and head for the back-roads. With wind in my hair, I smile at everyone I see. Grace smiles back at me (even through the trees).