Giving Back Boosts Health and Happiness

Playing Santa during the holiday season can be a joyous endeavour for many people, especially when a well-planned gift is received with enthusiasm and gratitude.  For those who hope to keep the warm, fuzzy feelings flowing year-round, giving can continue through charitable donations, food bank and shelter contributions, and volunteering.  Giving back to your community not only helps those in need, but giving has been found by researchers to boost happiness, increase social interaction, and improve overall health and well-being. 

Many studies have demonstrated that volunteering can help older adults live longer, and in better health by providing purpose, daily activity, and a sense of accomplishment.  By providing practical help to others through a service organization, or informally helping neighbours, friends and family, people who give their time and effort also experience relief from stress.  Proving social support has been found to lower blood pressure, and strengthens our ties and sense of trust and cooperation with others. In short, it feels good to do good, and giving can be contagious.

People are social creatures, but sometimes with life transitions like retirement, the loss of a spouse, or as adult children leave the nest, middle-aged and older adults may find they have fewer community connections.  With kindness and generosity, giving helps individuals feel needed and valued in society.   Giving and receiving both help instill a sense of gratitude which has also been found to boost happiness, life satisfaction, and health while strengthening social bonds.  Gratitude can also increase a sense of positivity which can spread to others, leading to more generosity, empathy, and kindness. 

Learn more about how to make your giving feel good by following this link to the Greater Good Magazine – Science-Based Insights for a Meaningful Life.