Doing good is good! And not just to others, but to you as well. Five reasons.
Yes, they exist, those sourpusses who make fun of “do-gooders” and are primarily concerned with their own egos. But let them grumble and don’t get angry – in the end, their attitude only harms them.
After all, those who do good – whether through donations, volunteer work, or simply by paying small attention in everyday life – not only make others happy but also themselves.
1. Daily good deeds make you happier than the big goals
What really makes us happy? A great job? A baby? A house? People tend to chase after the big goals in the hope that they will then be happier. It often works, but a study by the University of California found that once a goal is reached, people quickly get used to the new situation and the feelings of happiness subside.
Much more important is a person’s daily behavior – because that is responsible for 40 percent of our happiness (the rest is determined by our genes, so there’s nothing we can do about it anyway).
An experiment with students who were asked to perform various good deeds for six weeks (from donating to the homeless to visiting grandma in a nursing home) shows: The subjects were happier overall during that time. So if you behave in an exemplary and social way, you can easily get your own personal happiness boost.
2. Doing good is good for the ego
Why do we feel happier when we do good? U.S. psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky has conducted several studies on this and concludes, “When you behave kindly and generously toward others, you end up viewing yourself as a generous person – so it’s good for your self-perception.” In addition, people have a more positive view of the world overall – they also perceive the actions of others as more charitable when they do good themselves.
3. People who do good things have more social contacts
One of the most famous misers is Ebenezer Scrooge from the Christmas story by Charles Dickens. No one likes the unkind bone who takes money out of the pockets of the poorest. And it’s the same in real life: social coldness makes you lonely. On the other hand, if you help others, you’ll meet new people more quickly, and they may even become friends. “And because these people will remember your helpfulness, the likelihood that you yourself will be helped when you need it increases. Welcome to the cozy nest of charity!
4. Doing good reduces stress
Psychologists from the University of California have studied what happens in our heads when we support others. In one experiment, they studied couples using magnetic resonance imaging. The woman lay in the scanner while her partner was subjected to electric shocks outside. Some of the women were allowed to hold their partner’s arms during this time. The others were not allowed to touch the man and thus had to watch his pain.
The result: In the women who were allowed to help, the reward center in the brain was stimulated – the same one that produces the pleasant feeling during sex or when eating chocolate. In addition, the area responsible for reducing stress was active. So helping is doubly good!
5. Doing good is good for our country
Every year, the “World Giving Index” examines how generous people are in countries around the world. And here, too, the researchers found that in countries where particularly many generous deeds are done, people are happier overall – which is good for society.
Incidentally, the most generous countries in 2020 were the USA and Myanmar. Myanmar’s top ranking is mainly due to Buddhism, where charitable donations are highly valued.
The country rankings are based on how often respondents have donated to a charity in the past month, whether they have done volunteer work and whether they have helped a stranger.