What Generosity Does to Your Brain and Life Expectancy

What Generosity Does to Your Brain and Life Expectancy
Photo credit:U.S. News & World Report

Need an antidote to stress? Want to do something that's good for your brain and may even help you to live longer? Research shows that giving of your time, talent & treasure not only benefits others, it's good for you too.

Stephen G. Post, the director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at Stony Brook University in New York, describes it as the “giver’s glow.” When we give with a generosity of spirit, Post says that the brain “doles out several different happiness chemicals including dopamine, endorphins that give people a sense of euphoria and oxytocin, which is associated with tranquility, serenity or inner peace.”

Past studies have shown that people who give, because it truly matters to them, can help lower their stress levels and reduce their risk of depression. They may even add years to their life and certainly more life to their years. And consider this: Even just the thought of giving can have a positive impact on the brain.

But if you’re heart isn’t in it, you may not experience the same benefits. Pope explains the difference happily giving to others can have on your life: “People say their friendships are deeper, they’re sleeping better and they’re able to handle life’s obstacles better. On a scale of 1 to 10- and 10’s a really powerful drug like insulin in the treatment of diabetes–this stuff is probably up there around a 7 or 8. And the amazing this is, you don’t need to go to the drugstore for it.”

U.S. News & World Report, 5/1/15

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