Advertisement

Surprising Ways Holiday Giving is Good for You

Surprising Ways Holiday Giving is Good for You

Ever wonder why people keep giving to charity, especially when times are tough and you'd think everyone's just hardwired to survive? (Americans donate about $300 billion a year.) No, it's not the tax break, according to a study. In fact, most givers don't itemize and don't get a tax benefit at all. Here's what might be fueling such generosity:

  • Your brain chemistry holds the key. When you feel especially good -- say, after making love or eating a great meal -- the pleasure center of your brain lights up like holiday lights in December. Ditto if you win at a casino. If you then give your winnings to a charity, that same pleasure center will light up even more than if you keep the cash. Think Times Square on New Year's Eve compared with sparklers on the Fourth of July.
  • Giving not only makes you feel good, it also makes you stronger. For example, if you squeezed a rubber ball (or shook the hand of an unsuspecting new acquaintance) right after doing something nice for someone, chances are you'd squeeze it 20% longer than on a usual day. (Find out other ways to improve your mood.)
  • When it comes to love, it's also better to give than to receive. If you're married and you and your spouse go the extra mile for each other, you're likely to live longer than couples who don't take the extra steps, and longer than a spouse who is mostly on the receiving end. (Find out how to spice up your love life with an attitude of gratitude.)

What are you waiting for? Offer your lover a back rub. Volunteer at a school. Send an extra check to a favorite cause. And let the feel-good lightshow begin!

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

In a Bad Mood? Try This
In a Bad Mood? Try This
When your emotional well-being is in need of a "tune up," follow this simple rule for feeling better: take more walks. A strong body of research sugg...
Read More
What is a good product to take to get more energy?
Barbara Nolan , NASM Elite TrainerBarbara Nolan , NASM Elite Trainer
I always promote water first and foremost! Maybe a flavored powder can be added to the water if wate...
More Answers
5 Ways to Beat the Afternoon Slump
5 Ways to Beat the Afternoon Slump5 Ways to Beat the Afternoon Slump5 Ways to Beat the Afternoon Slump5 Ways to Beat the Afternoon Slump
And we're not talking about caffeine.
Start Slideshow
2 Coffee-Free Ways to Boost Your Energy
2 Coffee-Free Ways to Boost Your Energy