According to a new research by scientists in Switzerland the brain is hardwired for happiness in response to giving.
The scientists used brain scans to track activity in brain regions associated with socializing, decision-making and happiness. They discovered that even a small acts of generosity or just promising to be charitable triggered brain changes that make people happier.
The findings according to study author Philippe Tobler, a neuro-economist at the University of Zurich’s laboratory for social and neural systems research means that spending money on others rather than on oneself could be an alternative road to happiness.
The study confirms a 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues who discovered that giving money to someone else lifted people’s happiness more that spending it on themselves.
In a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found out that giving activates a regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect and this can lead to altruistic behavior releasing endorphins in the brain, thus producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.”
Giving improves physical health and longevity because it’s help 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.
“We’re designed to respond empathically to each other, and for our self-interest to be balanced by protection of the greater good. In other words, we’re pre-wired to receive pleasure from helping others, which includes generosity.” Explained Kit Yarrow a Professor emeritus of consumer psychology at Golden Gate University, San Francisco.
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
Whether you are giving to a charity, your friend, a family member or a stranger, giving is contagious, you don’t only help the immediate recipient of your gift, you spur a ripple effect of generosity, decrease your stress level and send some good signal to the brain.