What makes you happy? Is it spending time with family, working on a creative project, worshipping with fellow parishioners, dancing, shopping? Whatever it is that brings you happiness, it is a guarantee that you try to do it as often as you can.

It is an innate desire of every human to want to feel good. Happiness tops the list of people’s most wanted desires. Feeling good feels great and we’re always looking for ways to feel better.

One of the best ways to feel good is to make others feel good. Being kind to others gives most people deep satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment. As a matter of fact, when you give, your brain’s pleasure center responds causing endorphins to give you a natural high. Giving releases a hormone called oxytocin which makes you feel closer to others, heightens empathy levels, and lowers stress. Generosity inspires others to be generous and people begin to pay it forward. Happiness truly is contagious!

A new study published in Nature Communications by researchers from University of Zurich in Switzerland discovered that not only doing good for others bring joy, but merely thinking about doing good for others bring joy. The study also shows that people who act out of self-interest are less happy than people who are generous.

The researchers informed 50 people that they would receive $100. Half of the people agreed to spend the money on themselves and the other half agreed to spend the money on others. MRIs revealed that those who agreed to spend money on others “had more interaction between the parts of the brain associated with altruism and happiness, and they reported higher levels of happiness after the experiment was over” (MacMillan, 2017). The experiment also revealed that the amount given to others didn’t make a difference. Whether giving a little or a lot, people had the same effects of happiness.

There are countless studies that prove that giving is just as pleasurable as receiving. It has been proven that generosity lowers stress and helps you live longer; it counters depression, gives greater satisfaction with life, increase health in those with chronic illnesses, and makes those around you happier which in turn creates a pleasant environment and build stronger relationships. So, the next time you think about treating yourself, maybe treat someone else instead. Giving is a happiness booster that has wonderful effects on your health and overall wellbeing.

Consider giving to HEAT. Visit heatga.org/donate for more information.

Works Cited

Harmer, S. (2015). The Science Behind Why Giving Makes You Happier. Retrieved April 29, 2019, from Lifehack: https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/the-science-behind-why-giving-makes-you-happier.html

MacMillan, A. (2017, July 14). Being Generous Really Does Make You Happier. Retrieved April 29, 2019, from Time: http://time.com/4857777/generosity-happiness-brain/