The Science of Giving Back

“There is a lot of evidence that one of the best anti-anxiety medications available is generosity”

Adam Grant, Author and Organizational Psychologist

Becoming part of something bigger than ourselves by generously donating some of our own personal resources (time, money, advice, support) might be one of the best things we can do for our well-being.

Rule 8 of the Personal Kaizen 10 Rules for Life is to Give Back to Others. Studies show that the act of ‘giving’ or ‘generosity’ can boost physical and mental health by lowering blood pressure and stress levels. Giving back can also increase feelings of satisfaction and create stronger relationships. 

The act of giving triggers the release of hormones including serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. These ‘feel good’ hormonal responses occur for both the giver and the receiver, but last longer for the ‘giver.

Our brains are wired to feel reward when we give to, or care for, others.

Taking a step away from our own stressors and to-do lists to invest our time or energy into someone else can have significant impacts on energy levels, feelings of depression, and overall health and happiness.

The TED Talk below describes more about the experimental evidence on giving and reminds us to be present and involved when we give. Know how your donation will help others. Directly involve yourself. The impact on happiness when you are involved is equivalent to the happiness of having twice as much income!

Get started in your journey of generosity

  • Donate money. Sometimes we feel like we can’t give enough and it prevents us from giving anything. Find an organizations or cause you care about and start small.
  • Redirect your spending. Choose one area of your expenses that you could redirect. For example, instead of going out for lunch every Friday, switch to every other Friday and redirect those savings towards your charitable giving.
  • Invest your time in someone else. Spend time with someone and listen to them, help someone with a project or task, teach someone a new skill. Find ways that your energy, skill set, and compassion can boost someone else’s spirits.
  • Small gifts or notes. Acknowledge someone’s positive efforts or good deeds by leaving them a note. Leave a small gift for a neighbor or friend.

Learn what your donation will be used for or be present when the benefit is received by others.

Do you know the best part of generosity? It’s contagious! 

Get more by giving back

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Give, Care, Connect

Striving to live more generously should be a goal for all of us. By investing more of our time and resources into others we can build our communities, solve seemingly big problems, and live longer healthier lives. Remember to be personally involved. Seeing how your support benefits others has a greater effect on improving your happiness!

Please share your thoughts and comments and examples of things you do in the spirit of generosity below.

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