Mahatma Gandhi once said ‘the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others’. Whether it’s raising money for charity, giving change to the homeless man on the street corner or even surprising your other half with flowers, many of us give on a regular basis but why do we do this?
Giving and Happiness
In the mid 2000’s whilst working at the National Institutes of Health Dr. Grafman began to investigate where empathy and generosity originated in the brain. He discovered that when recipients donated to what they believed was a worthy cause the parts of the brain that lit up were in the same region that controls our cravings for food and sex. Therefore concluding that giving is rewarding, and the brain churns out a pleasurable response when we do this. Next time you are feeling down in the dumps rather than eating that Mars that’s in the bottom of your bag give it to the next person you see and in theory this could make you a happier person!
In one of the most comprehensive studies of American’s giving habits ever conducted sociologists Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson found that out of a group of Americans who donated more than 10% of their income, 41% of them said they rarely or never experienced depression. They conducted the same study with a group who didn’t donate and found that only 32% of them rarely or never experienced depression. This study suggests that giving could actually help make people happier and even help to avoid depression!
‘What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.’ – Nelson Mandela
The Season Of Giving
Thinking about the relationship between happiness and giving, one of the merriest and happiest times of the year for many is Christmas, (which coincidently is) the season of giving! It has been suggested that as many of us get older we prefer the giving part of Christmas to the receiving. This is one of our favourite Christmas videos and just shows how big of an impact giving can have on people.
Giving and our Health
It has also been suggested that as well as making us feel happier, giving can actually have positive effects on our health. A study by Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University reported that giving has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illnesses, including HIV and multiple sclerosis!
So there you have it, from the studies that we have seen, giving can in fact make you a happier and healthier individual! Don’t forget that you can give through the thousands of campaigns that have been set up through Shareagift, or you can create your own campaign and encourage others to give.
‘We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.’ – Winson Churchill