Giving Is Good for You – Literally!

You know those warm fuzzies you get when you buy a little treat for someone you love? They are actually good for your health!

Basically, human beings are hardwired to find happiness in giving. A ton of research links spending money on others – also known as “prosocial spending” – to improved mood and greater life satisfaction. It doesn’t matter what your own financial status is, how much you give, or who you give it to. Someone who slips a hard-earned $5 to a struggling friend gets as big a boost of well-being out of it as someone who funds a charity gala.

Here’s the really amazing thing: a growing body of evidence indicates that prosocial spending is good for your physical health, too. One recent study suggests that it may reduce stress and inflammation that contribute to other illnesses. Another actually found that three weeks of giving to charity was as good for lowering blood pressure as starting a new exercise routine!

And just like you get more from your exercise routine when you enjoy it, research shows that you get more from prosocial spending when you give in a way that really matters to you. So give to a cause you feel strongly about, not just one your boss or friend asked you to donate to. Give in a way that lets you enjoy seeing the impact of your generosity, whether that means a heartfelt “thank you” or the launch of a project you supported. And most of all, give in a way that helps build your social connections – to someone you care about, to an organization that matters to you, or to your community.

And the next time someone tells you that money can’t buy happiness, you can tell them, “Actually, it can...if you’re giving it away!”