Science-backed reasons on why giving is good 💸👯💝

We’re often taught that ruthlessness and a self-centred approach are needed to get ahead in life, but try to think back to the last time you gave something away - perhaps a donation, or a gift to someone in need. Did it make you feel good? It’s no surprise if it did (and we hope it did, otherwise, you know, you might be a robot) after all, scientists have found that our brain is hardwired for generosity. A study by Harvard University upholds the findings, highlighting a correlation between giving and feeling happy. In fact, when making a donation your brain acts in a similar way to when you’re eating chocolate. So, generosity is not only a virtuous trait, it also makes us feel good. And it’s arguably much healthier than bingeing on Lindt (uh-oh, Easter weekend regrets…) - check out our Vestpod article on spending for smiles.

If you want to maximise your happiness when giving, here’s five ways to get you started:

  1. Give more frequently in smaller amounts: you’re more likely to feel the buzzing effects associated with donating if you engage with giving on a regular basis. One-off donations are great, but research shows that giving regularly is most beneficial both for the giver and the donatory.
  2. Have a no strings attached approach: incentives can be helpful, but you’re most likely to experience more satisfaction from giving without any expectations of a ‘return on investment’.
  3. Give when you know you can make a difference: you’ll feel incredibly empowered knowing your donation changed something for the better. Do your research and donate to to the more efficient and effective charities to ensure your money will make a true difference - you can learn more about effective altruism here.
  4. Get involved with a cause that’s close to your heart: whether that’s something relating to the environment, medical research or humanitarian aid relief, finding a cause that speaks to you on a personal level will help you feel more engaged and, in turn, much happier.
  5. Don’t be shy to talk about your generosity: there’s nothing wrong with sharing your achievements as an altruist. If you’re running a marathon for charity or donating your hair to a cancer fund there’s all the more reason to talk about it! Chances are, you’ll get plenty of positive reinforcement from your friends - and we all know how addictive those Facebook ‘likes’ can be.

If you’re still not sure whether giving is for you, how’s this for a motivator - studies show that giving is good for our health. One study led by Doug Oman of the University of California, Berkeley found that elderly people who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44% less likely to die over a five-year period than were non-volunteers. Not only does giving help your livelihood, it also also promotes social recognition and connection: sociologists Brent Simpson and Robb Willer have suggested that your generosity is likely to be rewarded by others down the line - a little thing we call good karma.

👉 Do you contribute to any charities? How frequently do you donate? Have you noticed that giving makes you feel good? 👈

Credit: Giphy.