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Generosity and Happiness: Does Giving make you happier or not? New study provides a clue!

Are you often inclined to do more for others? Or do you hold back from helping others? A new study recently looked at how giving affects our level of happiness.  Does giving to others make you happier? Is there a relationship between one’s level of generosity and happiness?

According to the new study even a little generosity makes you happier.  However, if you do decide to give only because of self-interest, don’t expect to be happier.

The study titled ‘’A neural link between generosity and happiness’’ was conducted by neuro-economist at University of Zurich and published in Nature Communications a reputable peer review journal.

How did the researchers establish the link between generosity and happiness?

The researchers asked 50 individuals to decide on how to spend a sum of money they were expected to receive. Half of the study participants promised to spend the money on other people while the other half decided to spend money on themselves. The authors assessed brain changes and how the participants felt during the period of study.  What was the main finding? Those who promised to commit the money to others were happier than those who intended to spend the money on themselves.  They concluded that while giving makes us happy, selfish motives may rob us of the joy of giving.

Interestingly, the amount of money the participants committed had no impact on the level of happiness.  This was highlighted by one of the main authors, Philippe Tobier said that ‘’you don’t need to become a self-sacrificing martyr to feel happier. Just being a little more generous will suffice’’ So, being kind to others and helping in our own little way is what really matters.

Although, the sample size of the study was small, it adds to the growing body of evidence that giving makes us happy.

If you are not deriving the full benefits of generosity you may need to re-examine your motives for doing so.  For example giving in the following conditions may not make you happier since the intent is actually in one’s self interest:

  • Making a donation with the sole aim of attracting public interest or seek an office
  • Giving to obtain favours in return
  • Giving to avoid taxes or other fines and penalties
  • Giving to make up for errors or mistakes

Are there opportunities to give? Certainly! See the most recent stats on poverty:

happiness

According to the World Bank,  over 800 million live on less than US$1.90 a day. About half of these people living in extreme poverty, reside in sub-Saharan Africa.  

The vast majority of the poor live in rural areas and are poorly educated, mostly involved in agricultural activities.

In a bid to encourage giving, the world’s richest individuals started what is known as the’’ giving pledge’’.

As at 2016, 170 individuals from 21 countries have promised to give at least US$365 billion!

The top 5 billionaires on the list are:

  • Bill and Melinda Gates
  • Warren buffet
  • Larry Ellison
  • Michael Bloomberg
  • Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

Here’s a very good reason to be generous-giving makes you happy!

Giving to others promotes good mental well-being.

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