Giving to Others Can Help You Live a Healthier and Happier Life
Who hasn’t heard the adage, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving”? Recent studies have shown that not only are givers happier, they are also living longer and healthier lives!
Researchers have recently looked into what is known as the “helper’s high” – that warm fuzzy feeling you get from helping others – and how it affects us emotionally and physically. Since this is a time of the year when people are thinking about gratitude and giving back, let’s talk about some of the ways having a giving spirit can benefit you.
Benefits of giving
We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
In everyday life, many people volunteer — whether it’s serving at soup kitchens, cleaning up litter, taking seniors to the grocery store, or helping a next-door neighbor. These people are motivated by an unselfish desire to help others with no thought of repayment. Nevertheless, there are dividends to be reaped from having a giving spirit. Here are just a few:
- Endorphin boost – The good feeling you get from doing something for someone else acts on your body the same way physical exercise does, releasing a flood of endorphins that make you feel good. This hormone rush is the “helper high” that many volunteers report feeling.
- Feelings of satisfaction – Being able to help someone else adds meaning to a person’s life. This has proven to be especially true for older adults. Those who volunteer in their communities experience less depression, have lower blood pressure, a greater sense of connectedness to others, and feel they have a purpose in life.
- Deepens the feeling of gratitude – When you give of your time, energy, talents or assets, you can be profoundly affected when you see how it helps someone else’s life. Often, this makes people think about all the things they have in their own lives for which they are grateful. And studies have shown that grateful people are happier people!
- You forget your own problems – Concentrating on someone else’s needs can help you to get out of your head for a while. You can take a vacation from your day-to-day worries and spend a few hours helping someone else with theirs. In fact, when people with medical conditions “counsel” other patients with those same conditions, the “counselors” often experience less depression, distress, and disability.
- Improves your health – Scientific studies have been done to research how helping others affects the body. Acts of kindness lower stress levels. And lowered stress levels are good for your body for many reasons. It can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and enhance the body’s immunity by stimulating the production of antibodies. And it’s been shown that when a person has a pattern of giving in their life, it can impact their lifespan in a positive way!
Can you give?
Giving benefits both the giver and the receiver. Would you like to experience the “helper’s high” and gain the benefits that come from giving to others?
There are many opportunities available in every community to do something good for someone else. Check with your local food banks, nursing homes, hospitals, or community groups for a need for volunteers. Or look for ways to help others around you at work, home, or in your neighborhood. As we have discussed, the rewards you will get far outweigh any sacrifice you may make!
Do you have favorite ways of giving? What do you feel you receive? We’ll be interested to read your comments below!