Being generous with your time, money, and other resources is undoubtedly good for those on the receiving end of your goodwill. Did you know that giving also benefits your physical and mental health?
How generosity helps the giver
Research published in March 2020 showed that volunteering isn’t only associated with a higher level of wellbeing. It actually leads to a positive change in wellbeing.
Another study showed that people who were more generous reported having more close friendships (vs. people who were less generous) and felt closer to their co-workers.
Giving social support has also been linked to:
- Lower blood pressure
- Greater self-esteem
- Less depression
- Lower levels of stress
- Longer life
- The biology behind the effect
How exactly does giving do all these wonderful things for the giver? One reason is what happens with the chemicals in our brains. When we are giving to others, our brains produce “feel-good” chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin.
Giving also activates areas of the brain that are linked to trust, social connections, and pleasure. In one study, MRIs were done on people who had just donated to charity.
Researchers found that their giving activated the brain’s reward center. That makes your brain release endorphins, which creates a euphoric feeling.
A positive cycle
The positive feelings we get from giving reinforce that behaviour—making us want to continue our generosity. It’s a pretty great cycle that benefits everyone involved!