Why Giving is Good for You
“I give myself the pleasure of helping others” (Anthony de Mello)
Altruism, doing something for the benefit of someone (or something) else, is part of human nature. Time and again, ‘Giving’ has been identified as one aspect of life satisfaction and as having positive effects on our wellbeing.
That being the case, perhaps Giving is not all that selfless an act! ‘Helper’s High’ is a state of euphoria identified by psychologists in people who are engaged in a charitable act of some kind. Giving produces endorphins in the brain and stimulates the same areas that are lit up by eating chocolate, having sex or even a very mild morphine high. More interestingly, the same areas of the brain light up in both the giver and the receiver, so it appears that Giving feels just as good as the happiness from receiving. We’ve probably all experienced this buzz in the simple act of giving a gift to someone and seeing them light up in joy.
Health benefits: Physical and Mental Longer term benefits of altruism and kindness in volunteers (especially older volunteers) include living longer, being healthier and lower levels of depression. Regularly lending a helping hand apparently protects overall health twice as well as a daily aspirin protects against heart disease!
Positivity Giving helps us put things in perspective - of course we are all aware of the terrible things happening in the world which can be far worse than our own plight, but being part of the solution engages us more deeply and helps us to put a positive spin on our own worries. Altruism also helps us to see life as more meaningful and fulfilling.
A Sense of Belonging Being part of a community or social network or knowing that your contribution of time or donation will help someone in need can give us a sense of belonging either in the micro or macro world sense.
The Knock on Effects Not only does Giving make us feel good but, psychologically, children and people who see us give or receive benefits are more likely to be altruistic themselves creating a positive spiral of Giving.
All types of giving are good for everyone involved so be it volunteering, money donations, donations in kind or acts of kindness, Giving in any way to someone you know or reaching out in the community or to a charity can have a profound effect on our wellbeing and of course is great modelling for our children.