Our How can we help- project

Meyken Houppermans, PhD. CrossFit Level 3 Trainer.
Head Coach and Founder
CrossFit and Positive HEalth, a perfect match! Positive Health is a dynamic concept of health care in which prevention and self- management are key. The CrossFit Eudokia community feels physically, mentally, and emotionally healthier when doing CrossFit regularly, and when doing something meaningful for others and investing in social participation. With our How Can We Help- project we brought that to life!

World Health Day 2022: The start of our follow-up project

April 7th, 2022, was World Health Day, and also the start of our How can we help project.

On World Health Day 2022 the World Health Organization (WHO) asked for urgent actions to keep humans and the planet healthy, and to foster a movement to create societies and economies focused on well- being and on the ability of people to have control over their health. According to the WHO more than 13 million deaths around the world are due to avoidable causes such as the climate crisis and diseases such as cancer and heart disease.[1]

The increasing rate of preventable chronic lifestyle diseases and the inherently high costs of medical care urge on a shift from health care systems dominated by care and cure to prevention and self-management.  From this new perspective, health is defined as the ability to adapt and to self-manage in the face of social, physical, and emotional challenges. That is also known as Positive Health.[2] 

The concept of Positive Health

Positive Health is operationalized in six pillars that can be used for the evaluation of aspects of physical, mental, social and emotional health and well-being.[3]

The six pillars give insight into needs and assets. A need can be defined as the gap between what is and what should be. A need can be felt by an individual or an entire community. It can be as concrete as the need for food or as abstract as improved community interactions. Examining what is needed can lead to future improvements. Assets, or resources, can include anything that can be used to improve the quality of life, or to strengthen the needs. Every individual is a potential community asset, and everyone has assets that can be used for community building.[4] 

The Positive Health of CrossFit Eudokia  

Mid 2021 we conducted a survey into the Positive Health of our community. Almost 80% of all community members filled in a short questionnaire on the six pillars of Positive Health. The outcome was clear. The Eudokia community feels physically, mentally, and emotionally healthier when doing CrossFit regularly, and moreover when doing something meaningful for others and investing in social participation. Helping others makes us feel good! Read more about our survey in this article.  

“By expanding our community and tightening our social interaction, we can enhance meaningfulness and we can keep our attention and priority on improving our bodily functions, together with others and especially those who need it the most, inside and outside our box and community.” 

The follow-up: How can we help- project

To give hands and feet to ‘doing something meaningful for others and investing in social participation’ we initiated our ‘How can we help’ project.

The idea was simple: we all have unique assets. Qualities, skills, knowledge, and experience others can benefit from. Often, we are not aware of the assets surrounding us. We also all have needs, to some degree, but are also often not aware of the needs of others, sometimes not even of our own needs.  

To create more awareness and to stimulate and facilitate helping each other, we made personal cards for every member with their picture and two preprinted sentences: “Can help with…..” (the asset) Needs helps with….” (the need).  

For two weeks we asked our members to take three minutes to fill in their card. After two weeks we collected all cards and analyses the data to see if any matches could be made between needs and assets within our community.  

We put up all cards at the entrance of our CrossFit box and made a short video for our members presenting ‘the catch’ and highlighting potential matches. We also made a short slideshow- video of all cards for members to watch on their own time. Last, we called on the community to reach out to each other via our online platform or in person at the CrossFit box, and to post a picture in case of a successful match.



Small effort, great pleasure

It was striking to see how hard it was for many members to write down how they could help others. Many of them said they did not have unique assets; they weren’t good at anything or they couldn’t offer anything special. Yet, most needs concerned daily life topics such as request for help with gardening, taking care of animals, going for a walk, or food related topics such as exchanging recipes. Offering help was not about doing something extraordinary or special. Just a walk in the park or exchanging some recipes was already more than enough. Small effort, great pleasure! 

Connecting and helping- mindset

We noticed that putting up the cards stimulated members to connect more and to offer more helping hands, regardless of what was on the cards. It seemed their focus was more on the other person, and their mindset was more on helping others. This corresponds with scientific research on helping, as mentioned later. We noticed for example the increase in social talks before and after a training session, and words like “I can help you with that”, or “contact me” were used more often. Also, members seemed to help each other more often with cleaning up their gear after a training session. 


Despite the seemingly increased ‘connecting and helping-mindset’ we also saw great hesitation among members to reach out when it came to their own need. Offering help seemed easier than asking for help, and writing down a request for help seemed easier than actively approaching someone to ask for help.  

We read all the cards. We knew almost all needs matched the assets. We knew many needs and many assets were similar. Nevertheless, we still heard members say there was probably no one who could help with their specific problem; or no one who would be interested in spending time to help. It took a little nudge here and there for members to connect.

The complexity of help

What seemed so simple, was in fact complex. Offering help and asking for help are both concepts surrounded by many cultural, social, and psychological factors that can stimulate or complicate actions.  

Mood state and emotions

For example, research shows that a positive mood state leads to increased helpfulness. Neutral to happy mood states lead to decreased self- focused attention.[5] So how we feel influences our willingness to help others.

Research also shows that empathic emotion can cause helping behavior because it involves group identification. This means when the helper and ‘helpee’ identify to the same group (CrossFit), and therefore can identify with each other, helping behavior is motivated.[6]


There are also many factors complicating actions to help. Sometimes we are not aware of our own assets; or we think we have nothing to offer; or we take our qualities and skills for granted. Sometimes we are also not aware of the assets of others, for example because it is not our culture to talk about what we’re good at, at least not in The Netherlands.

Many of us also do not easily ask for help. For example because we assume or have learned we should be able to fix things on our own; because we are ashamed to ask for help; because we had a bad experience; or because we do not want to be a burden to others. That feeling of being a burden or imposing ourselves on others is purely within ourselves, and it can apply to asking for help a well a to offering help to others.

Talking about it

Talking about needs and assets creates an opportunity to connect to others and to step out of the freeze mode of not asking for help or offering help when you actually want to. Talkingalso helps to reflect on our own needs and assets, and value them better to be able to help ourselves better. Help yourself first, before you can help others. Furthermore, by explicating needs and assets, by getting it out in the open, we step away from assumptions about others. About what they might think, feel or do. With that, we give ourselve and the other the choice to ask for or to offer help.  

Help is not for everyone

Although helping others might sound really great and fulfilling, help is not for everyone. Not every member wanted to participate in our project, for example because they had a helping care profession and did not want to take on that role in their free time.  

Research shows that helping can lead to positive affect (positive emotions and expressions) and to more helping intentions when the helper is autonomously motivated to help. Controlled motivation (should or must do something) leads to lower positive affect and less helping intentions.[7] The degree to which helping is volitional or autonomous predicts its effect on the well-being of the helper as well as of the ‘helpee’, because it relates to the need of satisfaction.[8]  

Besides motivation, the perceived prosocial impact of helping (the idea that one's actions are beneficial to the other) also plays a role. Responding to help requests can cause emotional exhaustion and depletion of regulatory resources such as willpower, motivation and self- evaluation. Perceived prosocial impact of helping can compensate this, by focusing on the positive outcomes for others.[9] So how we perceive our helping- actions affects the degree to which helping boosts our energy and mood. 


We cannot conclude anything yet, only describe our observation. Our How can we help- project is still running, and we are very curious and excited about the effects and outcomes on a community and an individual level. A great simple project that many members can benefit from, a well as a very interesting ungoing social "science" project.

Without a doubt to be continued… 

Create your own health!©




[2] Huber, Machteld. (23 nov 2017). Positive Health. A new, dynamic concept of health. euPREVENT Congres.

[3] Idem.

[4] Center for Community Health and Development

[5] CarlsonM, Charlin V, Miller N. Positive mood and helping behavior: a test of six hypotheses. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1988Aug;55(2):211-29. doi: 10.1037//0022-3514.55.2.211. PMID: 3050025.; GreenJD, Sedikides C, Saltzberg JA, Wood JV, Forzano LA. Happy mood decreases self-focused attention. Br J Soc Psychol. 2003 Mar;42(Pt1):147-57. doi: 10.1348/014466603763276171. PMID: 12713761.

[6] MiyazonoK, Inarimori K. Empathy, Altruism, and Group Identification. Front Psychol.2021 Dec 14;12:749315. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.749315. PMID: 34970188; PMCID:PMC8712484.

[7] "Doinggood, feeling good? The roles of helping motivation and citizenshippressure": Correction to Lin, Savani, and Ilies (2019). J Appl Psychol. 2019 Nov;104(11):1433. doi:10.1037/apl0000467. Erratum for: J Appl Psychol. 2019Aug;104(8):1020-1035. PMID: 31670533.

[8] WeinsteinN, Ryan RM. When helping helps: autonomous motivation for prosocial behaviorand its influence on well-being for the helper and recipient. J Pers SocPsychol. 2010 Feb;98(2):222-44. doi: 10.1037/a0016984. PMID: 20085397.

[9]LanajK, Johnson RE, Wang M. When lending a hand depletes the will: The daily costsand benefits of helping. J Appl Psychol. 2016 Aug;101(8):1097-110. doi:10.1037/apl0000118. Epub 2016 May 5. PMID: 27149605.; Adam M. Grant,Sabine Sonnentag,Doing good buffers against feeling bad: Prosocial impactcompensates for negative task and self-evaluations, Organizational Behavior and Human DecisionProcesses, Volume 111, Issue 1, 2010, Pages 13-22, ISSN 0749-5978.