Giving to Help Others May be the Secret to Happiness, Studies Suggest

It is a timeless question: What is the secret to happiness?
There is a wealth of scientific research that provides compelling data to support that giving is a powerful pathway to personal growth, lasting happiness, improved health and even living longer lives.
Many studies confirm that donating time and service to others could lead to happiness. Yet, an increasing number concludes that individuals who spent their money on other people are happier than those who spent money on themselves.
One well-known example was published in 2008.  Michael Norton, assistant professor at the Harvard Business School (HBS), conducted a series of studies with his colleagues Elizabeth Dunn and Lara Aknin at the University of British Columbia (UBC).  A total of 632 Americans were asked about their level of income and what they spent their money on. They were also asked to rate their own happiness. Norton and his colleagues found that people are happier when they spend money on others versus on themselves.
But Norton, Dunn and Aknin discovered something else.  He noted that beyond donating to their favorite charity, volunteering with their favorite charity also brought people happiness. Research at London School of Economics is among several that confirm those findings.  The London School study found the more individuals volunteered, the happier they were. Interestingly, they found those who spent time helping others, were likely to feel as if they had more time to themselves.
There are studies that show health benefits to giving. The Cleveland Clinic reports that giving is also good for the giver by boosting physical and mental health. According to numerous studies, benefits of giving financially or through volunteerism may include: lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, less depression, lower stress levels, greater happiness and even longer life.
University of Buffalo researchers found that those who give and display unselfishness throughout their lives could be linked to a lower risk of early death.
In 2013, The journal BMC Public Health published a review of 40 studies that examined the effect of volunteering on happiness and overall health. Results showed that volunteering not only improved life satisfaction, but also helped in decreasing depression among volunteers.
A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology found that people who gave social support to others had lower blood pressure and arterial pressure than people who didn’t.  Supportive interaction with others also helped people recover from coronary-related events.
The United Way of Forsyth County (UWFC) provides opportunities to give and help others in ways unmatched by any other local organization.  That’s because UWFC brings the community and its resources together to solve problems no one organization can address alone.
UWFC invites you to join us.  Give your money and time, it could change and perhaps extend your life.