An act of generosity can benefit the benefactor, too.
The moments that bring us the most joy during the holiday season – and throughout the year – are rarely centered on the self. Instead, they’re the rustling of a gift in a child’s eager hands, smiles on family members’ faces around the dinner table and the singular feeling of warmth you receive from heartfelt acts of generosity.
And since acts of generosity are more prevalent this time of year than any other, it’s interesting to note that generosity can be good for the heart – and the head – in other ways. When people think about helping others, they unconsciously activate a part of the brain responsible for feelings of gratification. But thinking about and being generous have other, more tangible benefits as well. Researchers from the University of Buffalo recently found a link between unselfishly helping others – whether carrying in the groceries, watching the neighbor’s children or driving a housebound friend to a community event – and the potential for a longer lifespan.
And that’s not all. An online national survey of 4,500 Americans conducted by UnitedHealthcare found that those who volunteer have less trouble sleeping, less anxiety, more confidence and empowerment, better friendships and social networks, and a sense of control over chronic conditions.
The effects can be felt whether you give of your time, talents or money. But to make the most of the latter, be sure to talk to your advisor about the most tax-efficient way to give to the causes you care about.