Loading them into the back of my big jeep we went out and wherever we met up with a needy soul we gave them a warm blanket. Smiles lit up faces as we distributed the goodies. A strange sense of happiness filled the cold air with a mystical happiness.
Aware of how I felt being a giver, I set out to find out why I felt warm despite the cold of that winter night.
You will be surprised to know, I started to figure out why I felt the way I did that night. Better still, it has a scientific term ‘Helpers Happy High’. In the last few years, researchers have looked at the so-called Helper’s High and its effects on the human body.
Scientists are searching to understand how the wish to perform good deeds affects our health, even our longevity.
Here are the results of my findings (wow that sounds heavy).
Giving makes us feel happy. A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues found that giving money lifts ‘participants’ happiness more that spending it on themselves.
The good feelings are reflected in our biology. A 2006 study by Jorge Moll at the American National Institutes of Health found that a giving behavior releases endorphins in the brain. It produces positive feeling known as the ‘Helper’s High’. That’s what I felt that night.
Giving promotes cooperation and social connection. When you give, you’re more likely to get back. Work by sociologists Brent Simpson and Robb Willer, suggests if and when you give to others, you will certainly be rewarded for your generosity. Importantly, either by the person you gave to, or by someone else.
A recent study led by Nathaniel Lambert at Florida State University found that expressing gratitude to a close friend or romantic partner strengthens our sense of connection to that person.
Giving evokes gratitude. Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of a gift, that gift can elicit feelings of gratitude. Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, co-directors of the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness: found if you taught college students ‘count their blessings’ and cultivate gratitude they tend to exercise more, be more optimistic, and feel better about themselves.
Giving is contagious. When we give, we not only help the immediate recipient of our gift, we also spur a ripple effect of generosity. A study by James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard shows that when one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously, toward different people. Such is the power of giving.
Therefore, give, not necessarily till it hurts! The ‘Helper’s Happy High’ you receive may be the best gift ever. Try to use your power of giving – it will transform your life.