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Giving is good for you

Christmas shopping can be exhausting and expensive, but research suggests it's worth the trouble. New studies attest to the many benefits of giving for both the giver and recipient.

Of course, we don't give to reap the benefits of giving, but research shows that giving can have the same benefits as volunteering or donating to a charity. 

  1. Giving makes us feel happy. A 2008 study by Harvard Business School found that giving money increased the giver's happiness more than spending it on themselves. Jorge Moll at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a "warm glow" effect.
  1. Giving is good for our health. Stephen Post from Stony Brook University reported that giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illness. Researchers suggest that one reason giving may improve physical health and longevity is that it helps decrease stress, which is associated with a variety of health problems
  1. Giving promotes cooperation and social connection. Research has shown that when you give to others, your generosity is likely to be rewarded by others down the line – sometimes by the recipient and sometimes by someone else. These exchanges promote a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to others, and research has shown that having positive social interactions is central to good mental and physical health.
  1. Giving evokes gratitude. Whether you're on the giving or receiving end of a gift, that gift can elicit feelings of gratitude. Research has found that gratitude is integral to happiness, health, and social bonds.  Barbara Fredrickson suggests that cultivating gratitude in everyday life is one of the keys to increasing personal happiness.
  1. Giving is contagious. A study by James Fowler at the University of California shows that when one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to act generously later toward different people. In fact, the researchers found that altruism could spread by three degrees—from person to person to person to person!"

So, when you are buying Christmas gifts, know that it's not just a holiday chore or obligation.  By being generous, you’re helping to build stronger social connections and may even jumpstart a cascade of generosity throughout your community. Don't be surprised if you find yourself benefiting from a dose of happiness in the process.

Let’s live to give!