Generosity makes you happier‚ research establishes

24 October 2017 - 13:47 By Suthentira Govender
A recent University of Zurich study found that giving evokes feelings of happiness.
A recent University of Zurich study found that giving evokes feelings of happiness.
Image: Wang Tom/123RF.com

It’s official – generous people live happier lives.

A recent University of Zurich study found that giving evokes feelings of happiness. The researchers investigated how areas in the brain communicated with each other to produce this feeling.

“What some have been aware of for a long time‚ others find hard to believe – that those who are concerned about the well-being of their fellow human beings are happier than those who focus only on their own advancement‚” said the researchers.

“Doing something nice for another person gives people a pleasant feeling that behavioural economists call a warm glow.”

However‚ the amount of generosity did not influence the increase in contentment.

“You do not need to become a self-sacrificing martyr to feel happier. Just being a little generous will suffice‚” said researcher Philippe Tobler. “Before the experiment‚ some of the participants had verbally committed to behaving generously. This group was willing to accept higher costs to do something nice for others. They considered themselves happier after their generous behaviour than the control group."

Johannesburg counselling psychologist Dr Ingrid Artus said: “Generous thoughts and acts appear to activate the feel-good reward system in the brain‚ so that generous people actually find pleasure in giving.

“People who perceive the giving of themselves‚ their time or money to others as a personal loss would‚ on the other hand‚ avoid altruistic behaviour – since it activates a fear response in the brain.

“In practice‚ however‚ just the thought of being generous towards another person can increase a sense of personal well-being and reduce stress‚” said Artus.

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