You know the feeling you get when you donate to a charity or give a gift to someone less fortunate? It turns out that giving can also be good for you…and the rest of the community. Here are the top five reasons to be a giver.
- Giving makes you feel happy. A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues found that people felt happier when they gave money to somebody else than when they spent it on themselves. In a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.”
- Giving is good for your health. A variety of research has proven that elderly people who volunteer their time actually live longer than those who do not. Another study reports that “giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illness, including HIV and multiple sclerosis.”
- Giving promotes cooperation and social connection. When you give, you are more likely to get back. It allows you to reach outside of your world and feel a kinship with others you might ordinarily not have. It has a way of expanding horizons.
- Giving evokes gratitude. It doesn’t matter whether you are giving or receiving a gift. The feelings created by that exchange are ones of gratitude. It can be a way of expressing gratitude or instilling gratitude in the recipient. And research has found that gratitude is integral to happiness, health, and social bonds.
- Giving is contagious. Sometimes when we give, it inspires others to do the same. It can send a “ripple effect” out to many others. You might not even know how what you do today affects people all the way around the world.