It’s possible to distill life into a handful of brain chemicals, but such generalizations seem to overlook the importance of cause, effect, and morality. Reflecting on the human condition, it says something about us that we respond so positively to give. Starting with brain chemicals and expanding into other effects beyond, here are seven reasons why giving to others who are in need is also good for us too:
Altruistic acts release certain chemicals in the brain, leading to a warm, happy feeling. There’s solid research out there that shows “consistent with [a] warm-glow, neural activity further increases when people make transfers voluntarily. Both pure altruism and warm-glow motives appear to determine the hedonic consequences of financial transfers to the public good.”
The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology concluded: “From an evolutionary perspective, the emotional rewards that people experience when they help others may serve as a proximate mechanism that evolved to facilitate prosocial behavior, which may have carried short-term costs but long-term benefits for survival over human evolutionary history”.
According to Business Insider and Arianna Huffington, acts of empathy and giving reward us with hormones that reduce stress levels in our brain. Huffington’s book, titled “Thrive” explains in detail how compassion “counteracts the excessive greed and narcissism around us”.
Aside from brain benefits and social evolution, giving also benefits your wallet. Donate to an IRS approved charity and they might let you keep more of your own money next tax season. There are limitations, of course, so check before you donate. You have to pay The Man one way or another, it might as well be on your terms and towards the causes, you believe in.
Donating and charitable actions are seen by your community, friends and family members. This isn’t to encourage gloating, which is always in poor taste, but it does mean others around you will be inspired to chip in as well. Giving is contagious.
Remember, money isn’t the only thing you can donate, it can be time as well. Try and find a field or nonprofit related to something you’re interested or knowledgeable in. Even better, add newly mastered skills and knowledge to your resume, and network with the people you meet. Who knew helping others can also bring you new opportunities?
Our world is far from perfect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to improve it. The universe is starving for benevolence. Be a light in the dark for the disenfranchised and less fortunate.
It would appear giving is in our nature and key to a better tomorrow. It’s worth taking a moment of introspection to ask yourself what motivates you to give? Does giving more make you feel even better, or does something else encourage you instead? Let us know, and share this with your friends who might need a reason (or 7) to give.