Have had several discussions with people over the years about how giving, either time or money can make you feel good; now it seems that there is some truth to the thought.

This article which appeared on Stuff.co.nz recently shows that there is some correlation between giving and feeling good.

The physical and psychological benefits of generosity

By: TERRI YABLONSKY STAT

“If there’s a magic pill for happiness and longevity, we may have found it.

Countless studies have found that generosity, both volunteering and charitable donations, benefits young and old physically and psychologically.

The benefits of giving are significant, according to those studies: lower blood pressure, lower risk of dementia, less anxiety and depression, reduced cardiovascular risk and overall greater happiness.

“Volunteering moves people into the present and distracts the mind from the stresses and problems of the self,” said Stephen G. Post, from the Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York. “Many studies show that one of the best ways to deal with the hardships in life is not to just centre on yourself but to take the opportunity to engage in simple acts of kindness.”

Studies show that when people think about helping others, they activate a part of the brain called the mesolimbic pathway, which is responsible for feelings of gratification. Helping others doles out happiness chemicals, including dopamine, endorphins that block pain signals and oxytocin, known as the tranquillity hormone.

Even just the thought of giving money to a specific charity has this effect on the brain, research shows.

Intuition tells us that giving more to oneself is the best way to be happy. But that’s not the case, according to Dan Ariely, professor of behavioral economics and psychology at Duke University.

“If you are a recipient of a good deed, you may have momentary happiness, but your long-term happiness is higher if you are the giver,” Ariely said. For example, if you give people a gift card for a Starbucks cappuccino and call them that evening and ask how happy they are, people say they are not happier than if you hadn’t given it to them. If you give another group a gift card and ask them to give it to a random person, when you call them at night, those people are happier.

“People are happier when they give, even if they’re just following instructions,” Ariely said. “They take credit for the giving and therefore are happier at the end of the day.”

Read full article here

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