Why does giving back feel good and make ya’ happy?

February 15, 2017
Beyond the Orphanage

There’s obvious benefits that are external to the act of giving, like the wonderful difference made to another human’s life, to the environment, and to animal species (and so on). But have you ever thought deeply about why giving back feels good on a personal level?

How your brain responds to giving back

When you give to somebody there’s a physical response in your body. Endorphins (chemicals) in your brain get excited, and make you feel amazing.

These are the same chemicals that jump around after you’ve exercised, and produce feelings can last up to two hours after the event. It’s also why recipients of kindness generally want to keep paying it forward.

Let’s get happy!

survey and study by researchers Dunn, Akin, Aknin and Norton concludes that happier people give more and giving makes people happier. We’re talking about a perpetual loop of happiness!

Interestingly, your brain’s reward and pleasure centre may also light up more if you’re the giver of a good deed than they do if you’re the recipient. On a side note, did you know that when you make a donation to charity, your brain acts in a similar way to eating chocolate?!

Did you know that when you make a donation to charity, your brain acts in a similar way to eating chocolate?!

Giving Is Good For Our Health

A wide range of research has linked giving back and different forms of giving to better health. One reason is that giving may improve physical health and longevity, by helping to decrease stress. In a 2006 study by Rachel Piferi of Johns Hopkins University and Kathleen Lawler of the University of Tennessee, people who provided social support to others had lower blood pressure than participants who didn’t, suggesting a direct physiological benefit to those who give of themselves.

Giving Increases Our Sense of Community And Social Connection

When we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them. “Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably,” writes Lyubomirsky in her book ,The How of Happiness. This “fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.”

Exchanges through giving promotes a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to others, and that is absolutely central to good mental and physical health.

5 ways you can feel good and maximise your happiness by giving back

Here’s 5 ways you can feel good and maximise your happiness by giving back, based on research summarised in the book Science of Giving: An Experimental Approach to the Study of Charity.

  1. Give to a specific project
  2. Give smaller amounts more frequently
  3. Give with no strings attached
  4. Give when you know exactly who your donation will help
  5. Give publicly, don’t hide it

Why giving back feels so good | Beyond The Orphanage

1. Give to a specific project

Know exactly what benefit your giving brings.

Beyond the Orphanage has two very specific projects: one in Ethiopia and the other in Nepal. Our website outlines specific information about our unique model of care,  and our blog provides updates from the field on a regular basis. Connect with a charity that reports back to you responsibly!

2. Give smaller amounts more frequently

Become a regular monthly donor and enjoy the benefits of giving each month. The truth is that the psychological benefits of giving $500 probably won’t be ten times more than $50.

Here’s a suggestion: give $50 each month. This will ensure you’re delivering yourself a nice dose of happiness regularly, rather than just once a year.

3. Give with no strings attached

Making a donation in order to receive a product in return can limit that altruistic high you get by giving. The best giving is just that – giving! Not buying, with a little giving on the side. Our advice: give because you want to give.

4. Give when you know exactly who your donation will help

Putting a name and a face to a cause will definitely give you a greater happiness boost.

BTO sponsors connect with their sponsor child, through yearly letter writing from the children. (Check out more about our child sponsorship program here).

5. Give publicly – don’t hide it

While many of you may wish to keep your donations private, it’s psychologically better for you to be publicly recognised and for your to celebrate your donation. The positive reinforcement of your good deed will boost your dose of happiness even more.
Here at BTO, we showcase donor stories on our blog. We are so proud of our donors and want to shout out about how great you are. (Let us know if we can write about your story!)
It’s the perfect time of year to reinforce your new year’s resolution for a happier, healthier, and even better 2017! See here for more information about donating, and here for more information about our child sponsorship program.

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