I am in search of a noun or concise, descriptive phrase for the satisfaction and joy one gets from helping others. I do a lot of community service and very much enjoy it, and I get an almost cathartic satisfaction from helping others. It seems to be a combination of empathetic joy, pride, and some sort of satisfaction from improving the general human or world condition. I know this is quite a lot, but does anyone have a good way to express this emotion or some part of it?

Thank you!


  • Yes: satisfation derived from helping others. It is as good as any other opinion expressed here.
    – pazzo
    Oct 13, 2014 at 6:15

7 Answers 7


Probably a great sense of fulfilment may fit the context you are describing:

  • satisfaction or a sense of having achieved potential or desires

  • achievement or realisation, as a prophecy or promise.

Source: TFD


Neighbourly if Canadian UK or Australian etc. Neighborly if American.

Being helpful to another just for the sheer unselfish joy of being helpful to those that need a hand. Small gesture to outright projects or finacial help with no expectation or need of acknowledgement, payment or favour done in return.

The best kind of help. Selfless and just cause you can and need is there.


The first word combination that emerged in my mind upon reading your request was "selfless joy". I typed it into Google, then into Google Books, and stumbed upon the word mudita:

  • Muditā (Pāli and Sanskrit: मुदिता) means joy. It is especially sympathetic or vicarious joy, the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people's well-being rather than begrudging it.

Enlightened self-interest seems like what you are looking for.

Enlightened self-interest is a philosophy in ethics which states that persons who act to further the interests of others (or the interests of the group or groups to which they belong), ultimately serve their own self-interest.

It has often been simply expressed by the belief that an individual, group, or even a commercial entity will "do well by doing good".


A further explanation from pscyhologytoday.com:

Enlightened self-interest refers to the understanding and trust that what a person does to enhance another’s quality of life enhances one’s own quality of life to a similar degree. More simply put, it is the idea that “what goes around comes around.”

While most of our actions are motivated by a desire to fulfill inner needs and personal desires, acts of enlightened self-interest serve the well-being of others as well. Enlightened self-interest means that everybody wins.

The recognition that being committed to another’s well being is personally fulfilling is the basis of a cycle of mutual generosity that creates an ongoing, self-reinforcing loop that deepens and becomes more enriching over time.

There is a similar question but not asking the same thing: What's the antonym for Schadenfreude?

In your question, you emphasize that you are satisfied by actually doing something and helping people instead of just being happy when others are happy. In the latter case, they might be happy for another reason. So, this is how enlightened self-interest differs from mudita.


Words that may convey the meaning include

  • plenitude, the state of completeness; and
  • contentment, a state of happiness, of peace of mind.

(Derived from http://www.chambers.co.uk/)


I'd go for: Halcyon


Halcyon (Calm, undisturbed, peaceful, serene,tranquil, satisfied, contented)

  • 1
    That's not what it means. It relates to a time period. Oct 8, 2014 at 10:44

I think the word you are after is altruism

  • 1
    Altruism is the state of giving to others; the question specifically asks for a word for happiness caused by one's altruism. Dec 7, 2014 at 21:01

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