the Science behind giving
Most of us realise that when we make the effort to give without expectations of reciprocity we feel fulfilled and energised. Science backs up these good feels in more ways than one and suggests this behaviour is deeply ingrained in humankind and universally experienced around the world (Aknin L. B., et al., 2012 & Aknin L. B., et al., 2013).
Numerous research papers have demonstrated that giving is a powerful pathway for creating more personal joy and improving overall health because of the plethora of the physiological and social responses to altruistic behaviour. We also know genetics and environment alone do not write our fate. It’s with this knowledge, Global Village are leveraging science and the power of technology to deliver a new choice for wellbeing.
Here are our top 6 factors proving there’s much more to giving than meets the eye:
1. PHYSICAL WELLBEING
Helping others promotes positive physiological changes in the brain associated with happiness. As the ‘runner's high’ happens when a runner's endorphin levels rise, the ‘helper's high’ happens when people perform good deeds for others as highlighted by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.
Giving releases Oxytocin which counteracts the effects of the stress hormone Cortisol (Inagaki T. K., et al, 2015). When Oxytocin is boosted, so is Serotonin which supports good sleep, digestion, memory, learning and appetite.
New research also shows lower blood pressure in those who give (Whillans A. V., et al, 2016).
2. GIVING IS ADDICTIVE
Those who give are shown to activate pleasure-related centres deep in the brain (Harbaugh W., et al, 2007) during which Dopamine is released. This mesolimbic pathway in the brain facilitates reinforcement and reward-related learning, hence, we feel rewarded and good when we give. Dopamine also plays an essential role in controlling our focus, cognition, learning and motor control. Becoming hooked on being kind is a generous biological design that some say is the key to our survival and wellbeing as a species.
3. MENTAL WELLBEING
Evidence shows that helping others can have a positive effect on our own mental health and wellbeing. It can improve mood, self-esteem, happiness, bring a sense of belonging and reduce isolation. The more positive interactions we have through helping others, the better the effect they will have on our mental wellbeing - even more so than self-focused wellbeing activity (Nelson K. et al., 2016).
Importantly, helping others not only has a positive effect on moods, but the effect was heightened for people experiencing anxiety, worry, fear, anger, frustration, envy, jealousy, guilt, depressed moods and loneliness (Snippe, E., et al., 2017).
4. GIVING IS CONTAGIOUS
Altruism has been found to spread by three degrees. As a result, each person in a network can influence dozens of people (Christakis N. A., 2010). One study explored the outcomes of ‘paying it forward’ activity on the wellbeing of participants who do good compared to those who receive good. The results showed that majority of recipients paid kindness forward (Pressman S. D., et al, 2015) thus creating a ripple effect of positive feelings and pro-social behaviour.
One can deduce that feeling kind or receiving kindness contributes to happiness and happiness is also a collective phenomenon that spreads (Aknin, L. B., et al, 2012).
A person's happiness triggers a chain reaction that benefits not only one’s friends, but their friends’ friends and their friends' friends' friends; people who don’t even know each other. The effect lasts for up to one year. Research shows that the happiness of a close contact increases the chance of being happy by 15%. The happiness of a 2nd-degree contact (e.g. friend’s spouse) increases it by 10% and the happiness of a 3rd-degree contact (e.g. friend of a friend of a friend) by 6% (Christakis N. A., 2008).
5. LONGEVITY AND GIVING
Pro-social behaviour like giving and kindness are linked to longevity (Lum T. Y., 2005) but few studies have been able to experimentally identify the cause of this association. However new research is providing clues about the specific ways kindness influences longevity such as one study which showed improvements in participants bodily immune response (Nelson-Coffey S. K., et al, 2017).
6. GIVING BRINGS FULFILMENT
Striving to understand where we fit in the world and questioning why we are here, what we can do to be a better person and how can we find more fulfilment, are part of the human condition. An article published by The Greater Good Science Centre located at UC Berkley states that “psychologists have distinguished between two types of well-being: hedonic well-being (a sense of happiness) and eudaimonic well-being (a sense of meaning and purpose). Although happiness and meaning overlap significantly, researchers suspected that helping others is especially crucial to developing a sense of meaning.”
There is compelling scientific data to support that giving is a powerful pathway to personal growth and lasting happiness. Research overseen by Harvard University found that those who gave ‘contributions of time’ were 42% more likely to be happy, than those who didn’t.
The benefits of the simple act of giving are profound. At Global Village we are creating the world’s easiest way to give: a Peer-2-Peer platform for emotional support that enables giving to transcend the prohibiting factors of modern life [time and money] and allow us to tap into a primal behaviour for our own wellbeing.
With this app, the act of giving can become a simple, daily wellness ritual.