Generous people live happier lives
Generosity makes people happier, even if they are only a little generous. People who act solely out of self-interest are less happy. A recent study found that just promising to be more generous is enough to trigger a change in our brains that makes us happier.
Many have believed this for a long time but research is showing that it’s true: Those who are concerned about the well-being of their fellow human beings are happier than those who focus only on their own advancement. The amount of generosity did not influence the increase in contentment. Philippe Tobler one of the researchers says, “Our experiment found you don’t need to become a self-sacrificing martyr to feel happier. Just being a little more generous will suffice,”. Doing something nice for another person gives many people a pleasant feeling.
Before the experiment started, subjects were randomly split into 2 groups. Those in the generous group were asked to verbally commit to behaving generously towards another person in the next day or two. The control group were asked to commit to giving something to themselves in the next day or so.
The researchers placed all subjects in a brain scanner as they made their commitment to give to themselves or to another person. It turns out that simply committing to giving to others increases activity in the part of the brain that is associated with happiness.
After carrying out their act of generosity to themselves or someone else, subjects were asked to judge their happiness levels. Those in the generous also judged themselves happier than those that had given to themselves.