In a winter funk? It's easy to shake. Help someone else cross something off their list.

In a winter funk? It's easy to shake. Help someone else cross something off their list.

Evidence from scientists in fields as varied as neuroscience, evolutionary psychology and behavioral economics is mounting: altruistic acts are not only a fundamental fabric of our human communities, but they are also a sure-fire route to happiness and health.

For example, Emory University neuroscientists James Rilling and Gregory Berns found that the act of helping another person triggers the same parts of your brain as self-gratification. So, when you help someone else, you get the same "reward," neurologically speaking, as if you had done something to fulfill your own desires.

And, as another example, researchers at Happiness360.org have found that committing random acts of kindness is strongly correlated with higher levels of happiness.

One of the kindest acts you could do for another is to help cross something off an already overstuffed to-do list. In that spirit, we've organized a list of five random acts of organizational kindness. Who knows? Maybe you'll get motivated to tackle some of your own organizational to-dos.

1. Organize someone else's closet. There are few organizational tasks as visually transformative as cleaning out a closet. In a relatively short period of time, you can take one from total disaster to pretty neat, and the benefits can be enjoyed every day for weeks on end. So, if you're married, clean out your spouse's closet. If you're not, treat your best friend, a parent or a sibling. Have fun with it; try to incorporate the element of surprise if you can.

2. Reach out and baby-sit for a stressed mom, friend or other relative. Motherhood is hard, hard work. Moms need, but don't often get, enough time to decompress and relax, especially moms with young children. Schedule time to baby-sit for a mom you know who could use a little "me" time. While you're baby-sitting, do a load of laundry for her, and you'll give (and get) an added dose of happiness.

3. Detoxify a friend's car. Most people we know have cars that could use a little TLC. When life is hectic, picking up that water bottle rolling around on the floor of the back seat often falls to the bottom of the priority list. Give a colleague or friend a certificate to a local car wash. Or surprise your spouse, sibling or parent by giving their car a deep clean by yourself.

4. Run an errand for someone harried. Lend a hand in a way that gives somebody more time. Take an errand off their hands –– whether it's something small, like picking up dry cleaning or making a phone call for them; or something bigger, like doing a grocery run –– and you will absolutely make their day. And yours, too.

5. Help someone map out a plan to achieve a goal. We all typically start off the year with good intentions, but by now, at least two-thirds have ditched their resolutions. Be the planning guru for a friend or family member. Grab a few free printable goal sheets, and help the person break a big goal down into smaller steps and schedule them –– and plan ahead for ways to get the person back on track if necessary.
    
The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to yourlife@getbuttonedup.com.