Is generosity linked to happiness?
by coraliedallaire on December 18, 2017 - 3:19pm
As we all know, Christmas is coming really fast and this time of year can be really stressful but at the same time so beautiful, we need to spread joy and happiness around us. Some people do not have the chance to celebrate Christmas however being generous by giving some second-hand, unwanted toys or just doing a generous action for someone in need can be a good way to be happy and make others happy too.
Generous behaviors are known to increase happiness so it can encourage people to be generous. Being generous involves the investment of one’s own resources for the benefits of others. Research in the field of psychology suggests that a generous behavior increases the level of happiness. A study has shown that people spending money on others have a higher level of happiness than people who are spending money on themselves. In this study, they investigate how generosity is linked to happiness on the neural level. The researchers wanted to see if thinking about being generous could make people happier. First of all, they had informed all participants that they would receive weekly monetary endowment. Half of the participants had to spend the money on others (experimental group) and half of the participants will need to spend the money on themselves (control group). Before giving any money, they asked each participant to think about someone they would like to offer a gift and how much money they would hypothetically spend. The participants had functional MRI scans to measure activity in three different regions of their brain associated with happiness, decision-making and generosity. In fact, their brain activity depended on how they had pledged to spend the money. They realised that the people who had more interaction between the parts of the brain were those who had agreed to spend money on others and that the amount of money they decided to spend on the person’s gift did not have an effect on happiness. At the end of the four weeks, they realised that when people thinking about a generous action they are about to do, their level of happiness increased. It is important to keep in mind that even a simple little things have a beneficial effect on others, like bringing coffee to a friend in the morning. Researchers suggest that making generosity a regular habit can help long-term happiness and well-being.
As we can see with some research, being generous has a big impact on yourself but it has also a big impact on others. Imagine that you see an old man walking in the street and he drops something, as simply as it is, you go get it for him and it makes him really happy but it also makes you happy. Another person could have seen your behavior and it could influence her and she may do the same for another person. It is like a cycle, seeing someone doing a good action for someone makes you happy and makes you want to do the same for another person. I really think that being generous is a good way to be happy, as I gave free smoothies for my school I was really happy and I felt proud that I did something really good for them.
In conclusion, generous behavior only has good and positive benefits. It can help the well-being of so many people and it is so simple. One good action of someone can have influence on so many other people to do the same that at the end so many people are happier. It is worth giving it a shot, even if you think it is not going to work.
MacMillan, A. (2017, July 14). Being Generous Really Does Make You Happier. Retrieved from http://time.com/4857777/generosity-happiness-brain/
Park, S. Q et al. A neural link between generosity and happiness. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms15964