‘Happiness Economics’. ‘Social Capital’. Economist imperialists are introducing fancy terms in their urge to expand their rational economic approach into ‘the Social’ . Meanwhile, you and I already know by nature, and now for a fact, what makes us happier; Giving.
Jason Marsh and Jill Suttie of the Greater Good Science Center did a little research into the effects of Giving. Their main conclusions?
1. Giving makes us feel happy.
A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more that spending it on themselves (despite participants’ prediction that spending on themselves would make them happier). Happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, saw similar results when she asked people to perform five acts of kindness each week for six weeks.
2. Giving is good for our health.
A wide range of research has linked different forms of generosity to better health, even among the sick and elderly. In his book Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University, reports that giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illness, including HIV and multiple sclerosis.
3. Giving promotes cooperation and social connection.
When you give, you’re more likely to get back: Several studies, including work by sociologists Brent Simpson and Robb Willer, have suggested that when you give to others, your generosity is likely to be rewarded by others down the line—sometimes by the person you gave to, sometimes by someone else. These exchanges promote a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to others…
4. Giving evokes gratitude.
Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of a gift, that gift can elicit feelings of gratitude—it can be a way of expressing gratitude or instilling gratitude in the recipient. And research has found that gratitude is integral to happiness, health, and social bonds.
5. Giving is contagious.
When we give, we don’t only help the immediate recipient of our gift. We also spur a ripple effect of generosity through our community.
Besides, giving has also been linked to the release of oxytocin, a hormone (also released during sex and breast feeding) that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection to others.
Great. Want to become Happier and Healthier ? Start by Giving.
- Jason Marsh and Jill Suttie. 5 ways giving is good for you, Greater Good Science Center, 2010 : Check out their full article for some more background