Today is a Giving Tuesday - a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. There are multiple ways to join the movement and give - whether it’s some of your time, a donation, gift or the power of your voice in your local community. The idea is simple yet the benefits are vast!
The fact that meaningful giving is good for the recipient is pretty obvious. Interestingly, there are also benefits to the giver. Here are science backed benefits that you may not have heard about:
1. Giving makes our brains happier. When people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.” Giving has been linked to the release of oxytocin, a hormone produced in the brain (also released during sex and breast feeding) that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection to others. In laboratory studies, it was found that a dose of oxytocin will cause people to give more generously and to feel more empathy towards others, with “symptoms” lasting up to two hours.
2. Giving is good for our health. A wide range of research has linked different forms of generosity to better health, even among the sick and elderly. In his book Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University, reports that giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illness, including HIV and multiple sclerosis. In a study of elderly people, those who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than were non-volunteers, even after controlling for their age, exercise habits, general health, and negative health habits like smoking. Researchers suggest that one reason giving may improve physical health and longevity is that it helps decrease stress, which is associated with a variety of health problems. In one study people who provided social support to others had lower blood pressure than participants who didn’t, suggesting a direct physiological benefit to those who give of themselves.
3. Giving promotes cooperation and social connection. When you give, you’re more likely to get back: Several studies have suggested that 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. What’s more, when we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them. “Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably,” writes Lyubomirsky in her book The How of Happiness, and this “fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.”
4. 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 through our community. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, shows that when one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously later, toward different people. In fact, the researchers found that altruism could spread by three degrees—from person to person to person to person. “As a result,” they write, “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.”
So whether you donate money to charity or volunteer your time, giving is a good in so many ways! Imagine the promise your gift holds!
The photo below means "Three thumbs up"! How about those three thumbs up and an act of giving ?
Further details to above points and references to scientific research noted in this blog can be found in a summary of research studies as described by Jill Suttie and Jason Marsh with Science Center at Berkeley.