Christmas is one of the biggest shopping seasons of the year, and you may be scrambling to find the perfect present for the loved ones in your life. In addition to making your relative or friend happy this holiday season, you’ll also feel great when you give the gift, and science shows that this is actually good for your mind and body. You can also get the same health benefits when you give your time and resources to others in a charitable fashion.
Studies have shown that giving actually makes us happy. Michael Norton conducted a study concerning this with his colleagues at the Harvard Business School in 2008. The study revealed that when a person gave money to someone else instead of spending it on themselves, the giver felt happier. This also occurred with participants who thought they would be happier if they kept the money.
Jorge Moll and his colleagues conducted a study to confirm this as well. In 2006, Moll and his contemporaries at the National Institutes of Health discovered that when people donate to charities, the part of the brain that is associated with pleasure or social connection is activated. This is commonly referred to as “helper’s high” or the “warm glow” that people feel when they are charitable.
Additional evidence that giving is good for our health comes from Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University and author of Why Good Things Happen to Good People (Terra). Post also shares that people give to others, they can better manage chronic illnesses, including multiple sclerosis and HIV.
Dough Oman of the University of California Berkeley also conducted a study in 1999 that proves the health benefits of generosity. He found that when elderly people volunteered at two or more charitable organizations, they increased their lifespans by 44% over a span of five years as opposed to elderly people who did not volunteer. Elderly individuals who spent their time volunteering for the benefit of others were able to outlive non-volunteers, even if those who volunteered were smokers, had poor diets or didn’t exercise regularly.
As you can see, being more generous has the ability to help us live our best lives. Giving a gift or volunteering your time and money to a great cause could help your brain and body to function well, which has positive effects on you, your family and the community.
More about Jorge Moll at http://moll-lab.org/our-team/jorge-moll