We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s better to give than receive” and with Christmas a peak time for giving (and receiving) it’s worth asking the question, is it true? While there’s a certain thrill in finding a present under the tree with your name on it, we’ve uncovered three reasons why it’s in fact better to give than receive this holiday season.
1. Helping others is a natural high
Researchers have found that charitable giving activates the mesolimbic pathway in the brain, which is where the neurotransmitter dopamine, the brain’s pleasure system, is found. As well, donating appears to increase the release of oxytocin which promotes social bonding and builds trust between people.
2. It’s good for your happiness
A US study led by Michael Norton, a professor at Harvard Business School, found spending money on others makes you happier than buying things for yourself. Published in the journal Science, the study questioned 632 Americans and found that, regardless of income level, those who spent money on others reported greater happiness, while those who spent more on themselves did not.
3. It’s good for your health
Another US study has found that giving to others can actually reduce your risk of dying in the next five years by up to 60 per cent! It concluded that older people who don’t help others are more than twice as likely to die than people who give some help. University of Michigan psychologist and lead author Stephanie Brown said, “Making a contribution to the lives of other people may help extend our own lives”. “It isn’t what we get from relationships that makes contact with others so beneficial, it’s what we give.”
What has been the greatest gift you have given to someone else?