How does generosity bring you more joy?

SEE-September 2nd: Being generous is not only beneficial for others, but it is also useful for our own mental health.

In a new study published in Nature Communications, researchers from the University of Zurich in Switzerland told 50 people they’d be receiving about $100 over a few weeks. Half of the participants were asked to spend the money on themselves while the other half were asked to spend the money on somebody else.


They performed functional MRI scans to measure activity in 3 regions of the brain associated with social behavior, generosity, happiness and decision-making.


The participants were asked to think about a close friend or a family member they would like to give them money. Those who decided to spend money on others had more interaction between the parts of the brain associated with altruism and happiness. They were reported higher levels of happiness after the experiment was over compared to those who chose to spend money on themselves,


“At least in our study, the amount spent did not matter,” lead author Philippe Tobler, associate professor of neuroeconomics and social neuroscience said in an e-mail. “It is worth keeping in mind that even little things have a beneficial effect like bringing coffee to one’s office mates in the morning.”


Tobler added, “It is known that actually helping others and being generous to them increases happiness. I would still consider that the primary route to boost happiness; however, making a commitment to help others is a first step to follow through.”


A study published in 2013 in the American Journal of Public Health found that making time for others and helping them can reduce stress and chronic diseases.

You can easily recognize a ‘Giver’ since they are surrounded by what It’s called  “giver’s glow” as Stephen G. Post, director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at New York’s Stony Brook University describe it.

This “warm glow” is the good sensation generosity gives us which can be happiness or satisfaction. Another study proved that generosity makes us happier because it affects the brain regions.


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