The Joy of Giving: Why Giving Makes Us Happier

giving gifts to bridesmaids

We’ve been told time and again that it is better to give than to receive. Apparently, this is not just to encourage us to be more selfless, but it is actually based on science. According to a research on 600+ Americans conducted by Michael Norton, a professor at Harvard Business School, “Regardless of income level, those people who spent money on others reported greater happiness, while those who spent more on themselves did not.”

A similar experiment was conducted by Elizabeth Dunn at the University of British Columbia with the same results: the students who spent on others were happier than those students who spent on themselves. According to an article published by Berkeley University of California: Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.”

joy in giving

Aside from the happiness factor, why is giving good for us?

In giving, you get something in return.
Some people call it the law of karma; some call it the boomerang effect. I call it Return on Investment. 🙂 We may not necessarily receive back the same value of what we have given or in its similar form or from the same person, but somehow, at some point, we get a return on our generosity. This is not to give us false expectations of always getting something back when we give, but this is about having assurance that being charitable is fruitful.

giving to homeless

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Giving makes a community thrive.
Sharing our excess with people who are in need not only gives us a sense of meaning but also strengthens our sense of community. It promotes cooperation, goodwill and healthy relationships. Author Sonja Lyubomirsky writes in her book, The How of Happiness says, “Being kind and generous foster a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.”

Giving is viral.
It has been proven that giving inspires others to do the same. How many online fundraising sites/projects have we seen being created, shared and successfully funded by strangers who were moved to give not just to help the cause, but because of the good example set by the rest of the online community? Generosity is definitely contagious.

Giving leads to contentment.
On this day and age when everybody constantly craves for more of everything – success, fame, material wealth, only few people find themselves in a state of contentment. But when give a part of ourselves, a portion of our time and resources to others, we realize that what we have is actually more than enough.

So go ahead, give. And be truly happy! =)

giving leads to happiness

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