Physical and Mental Benefits of Giving
Generosity makes people happier and reduces stress
At the most basic level, giving makes us feel better. Acts of generosity raise
levels of happiness and emotional well-being, giving charitable people a
pleasant feeling known, in behavioral economics, as a "warm glow."
When researchers measured the brain activity of people who donated, they found
that donating to a cause showed diminished brain activity in the amygdala, the
part of the brain that processes emotions. Anxiety, phobias, and post-traumatic
stress disorder are associated with increased activation of the amygdala.
Many of the physical benefits of altruism are likely related to reducing stress,
which is a catalyst for many health issues. These include increased heart rate
and high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart attacks and strokes.
Generosity counters depression
Globally, more than 260 million suffer from depression. Scientific evidence
shows that humans secrete "feel good" chemicals in their brains when engaging in
philanthropy, such as serotonin (a mood-mediating chemical), dopamine (a
feel-good chemical), and oxytocin, which is associated with tranquillity,
serenity, or inner peace. Depression has been linked to several physical
conditions, including heart disease.
Generosity can help you live longer
The benefits derived from contributing do more than simply make people feel
good. While scientists don't know why generosity can decrease mortality,
researchers have linked having a sense of purpose to lower mortality among older
adults. One study found that helping others reduced the risk of early death,
most likely by buffering the effects of stress.
Source: University of Buffalo
Study finds it actually is better (and healthier) to give than to receive
(source University of Buffalo)
Those who help others derive significant health benefits not available to
A five-year study by researchers at three universities has established that
providing tangible assistance to others protects our health and lengthens our
This, after more than two decades of research failed to establish that the same
benefits accrue to the recipients of such help.
Principal investigator Michael J. Poulin, PhD, assistant professor of psychology
at the University at Buffalo, says, "This study offers a
significant contribution to the research literature on the
relationship between social environment and health, and
specifically to our understanding of how giving assistance to
others may offer health benefits to the giver by buffering the
negative effects of stress."
Although it is established that social isolation and stress are significant
predictors of mortality and morbidity, 20 years of studies and meta-analytical
review have failed to establish that receiving social support from others
buffers recipients against mortality after exposure to psychosocial stress.
"As the title of our study indicates," Poulin says, "we tested the hypothesis
that providing help to others would predict a reduced association between stress
and mortality for the helpers. Specifically, over the five years of the study,
we found that when dealing with stressful situations, those who had helped
others during the previous year were less likely to die than those who had not
helped others," he says.
Reasons why giving is good for us
It's good for our health
We have seen the scientific evidence to know giving is good for both our
physical and mental health.
It makes us feel happy
Giving to others makes us feel happy.
Creates social connections
When you give, you are more likely to get back and these exchanges help us to
create social connections with others which also helps with our health.
When we give to others, we don't only make them feel closer to us, we also feel
closer to them.
Whether you're giving or receiving the act of giving creates feelings of
gratitude which is integral to happiness, health, and social connections.
Expressing gratitude strengthens our sense of connection to a person.
Pass it on
When we give we don't only help the recipient of our gift, we create a ripple
effect of generosity with the "Pass it on" action. Giving is contagious so when
someone gives to us, it makes us want to give to others and pass it on.
Jump for Joy
The act of giving releases oxytocin, a hormone that induces feelings of warmth,
euphoria, and social connections. According to scientists the feelings induced
by a dose of oxytocin often makes people give more generously and feel more
empathy towards others. This feeling lasts for up to two hours and can lead to a
cascade of generosity and positive feelings and in turn a giving circle which
goes way beyond the person we gave to as our generous behavior triggers others
Source: Everyday Health
They say money can't buy happiness. But if you spend it wisely, maybe it can.
Evidence suggests that pro social spending loosely defined as spending money on
other people, rather than on yourself (charitable giving is an example of it) can boost your emotional well-being and provide other health benefits.
Research shows, for example, that spending money on charities was linked with
increased levels of happiness, while money spent on personal expenses or new
stuff had no effect on a person's happiness levels.
There's a significant amount of data that shows that giving benefits our
emotional well-being, says Elizabeth Dunn, PhD, first author of the Science
study and a professor in the department of psychology at the University of
British Columbia in Canada. Other research from Dunn's group concludes that
pro social spending is linked to boosted happiness, mood, and life satisfaction
in diverse samples of people, she says (a review article published in 2020 in
the journal Advances in Experimental Social Psychology outlines the evidence).
"One of the best parts of being human is that we have evolved to
find joy in helping others."