Written by Keith Weaver JD, LCSW
This time of year is known for a time when people open their hearts both at work and home. This season often brings out the best in people (or worst). There are many benefits to helping others, but in are 7 reminders why givers also get:
#1 – Giving makes you happy
A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more that spending it on themselves [despite participants’ prediction that spending on themselves would make them happier]. When people give, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a ‘warm glow’-effect. Altruistic behavior also releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the ‘helper’s high’. And like other highs, this one is addictive, too.
#2 – Giving keeps you healthy
Giving helps others, but studies show that giving is also good for the giver. Giving boosts physical and mental health. It lowers blood pressure, you experience an increased self-esteem, less depression and lower stress levels. It seems that, contrary to popular belief, we don’t feel good by what we get, we feel good because of what we give. In the end givers live a longer life!
#3 – Giving promotes social connection
When you give, you’re more likely to get back. When you give to others, your generosity is likely to be rewarded by others down the line. Sometimes by the person you gave to, sometimes by someone else. It’s all about karma-points! When we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them. Giving promotes a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to others.
#4 – Giving enhances life’s satisfaction
People who give to others are generally more satisfied with their own situation and life than those who don’t. Givers seem better able to cope with problems and difficulties in their own lives, maybe because they have a good understanding of how many people are worse off than they are. Helping others gives meaning to your life and helps to make life worthwhile. While you are thinking about another person, you aren’t dwelling on your own problems.
#5 – Giving spreads joy
When you give, you will spread joy to others in ways you may not even realize. And by giving joy to others, it’s hard not to experience some joy yourself. You create a connection that you may not have had otherwise. You make the world a happier place, one act of kindness and generosity at a time.
#6 – Giving alleviates chronic pain
Physical giving, as in volunteering may help you feel better physically. You are getting out, moving around more than you normally might and spending time with others. If you feel like other people are counting on you, you may be more likely to keep moving even when you are experiencing pain. And helping others may take your mind off of your pain.
#7 – Giving is contagious
When we give, we don’t only help the immediate recipient of our gift. We also spur a ripple effect of generosity. When someone behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously later, toward different people. In fact, researchers found that altruism spreads by three degrees. From person to person to person to person. As a result studies say, ‘each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.’
Whether at work or home make a point to open your heart a help others.