Want warm glows and feelings of happiness? Try the power of giving!
Research supports that the power of giving makes people feel good and that those who spend more of their income on others are happier than people who spend more on themselves. Research from neuroscience suggests these people aren’t just saying their generosity feels good because they think they’re supposed to. Instead, studies have shown that the psychological rewards of kindness are reflected in the neural circuitry of the brain.
No study has directly measured brain activity in people who spend on others vs. those who spend on themselves. Charitable giving makes the “feel-good” parts of people’s brains light up in studies, particularly when the giving was totally voluntary, like feeling a “warm glow,” that pleasant feeling we get from doing something nice for someone else.
Giving also triggered activity in the parts of the brain which are known to light up when we think about moral issues.
Researchers also found that when participants made their charitable donations, the activity in these “moral processing” areas of the brain was greater among people who volunteered more in real life!
Photo from JD Thomas, Creative Commons.