Is there a connection between doing stuff and being happy? I know for me, I am happiest when I am working or making food for my friends and family. I love working in my garden and feel very accomplished when I’m finished.

We are hard wired for taking action and getting stuff done. It only makes sense, doesn’t it? Our survival as a society depends on the actions of lots of different people. We each do our part and everything runs smoothly. It only makes sense then that we have an internal mechanism hard wired into our brain that rewards us for getting things done.

I’m sure you’ve seen this in action in your own life. You feel proud, accomplished, and happy when you wrap up a big work project, or finish reorganizing your closet. It’s a great feeling and it’s what drives us to get things done regularly. It’s motivation to get to work and take action.

On the other hand, when we don’t have anything meaningful to do and we don’t feel like we’re contributing, we get depressed. People who don’t have a fulfilling job, or feel like their work is useless, are much more likely to feel down, tired, sad, and depressed.

The best way to turn that around is to find something, anything we can do to make us feel productive. If we feel like we’re contributing to others, having a positive impact on their lives, all the better. Give it a try. The next time you feel down, force yourself to do one little productive thing. Go clean the bathroom, organize your bookshelf, or do a load of laundry. Then use the accomplishment from that to motivate yourself to get something else done. Keep building on it, and before you know it you’ll notice your mood changing for the better

If you want to supercharge this experience, go out and do something productive that helps others. Go work at a soup kitchen for a couple of hours, or help out at your local animal shelter. Offer to babysit for a friend with little kids who hasn’t gotten out all week. Do something that benefits someone else and you’ll feel even better than before.

For the long run, make it a goal to work at a job, or build a business that helps fuel this feeling of contributing and giving back. Wouldn’t it be great if the hours you spent earning a living each week, also contributed to your overall happiness and a feeling of fulfillment? What can you do this week or this month to work towards this goal? That’s where you want to start and in the meantime, keep volunteering, keep taking action, and do things that make you feel happy and accomplished.