Science Has Spoken – Giving Makes You Happy!
By Eve Pearce
Helping babies makes us happy and makes them happy, too!
Relief Share believes that the true solution to the inequalities and suffering that occurs every day in the world is giving… by sharing toys with children whose parents may have lost everything in a natural disaster, bedding with those who cannot afford to stay warm, quilts to keep the aged cozy we play a small part in curing social ills which could be eliminated on all collective levels. Interestingly, numerous scientific findings reveal that when we give, we don’t just help the recipients of our donations; we also take our first steps on a journey towards greater personal happiness. These findings should be shared with the world, for they are likely to lead to further giving. In this post, we share important research work on the link between giving and personal joy:
Happiness is a cycle: Researchers, Isen and Levin conducted a study which revealed that people were more likely to help others when they were happy; those in a positive mood were also more likely to lend a helping hand to researchers. Similar observations have subsequently been made with children. In another study, Rosenhan et. al. randomly assigned positive or negative mood states to children by asking them to reminisce, talk and think about specific memories. They were then given some candy and money, which they were told they could give away to other children. While both groups of kids consumed more sweets than the control group, the happy children gave larger amounts of money to other children. As is the case with adults, similar positive mood states (achieved through a sense of competence or success) resulted in greater giving.
Happy people have been found to help others more in many contexts, including the work context: In one study, inexperienced workers with more positive moods and outlooks were found to be more likely to go the extra mile when helping customers by trying hard to find what the customer was looking for, and making a greater effort to provide quality customer service.
Everyone can help
Giving also makes us happier: In an excellent report on giving, L. Anik et.al. run through the most useful recent studies on the subject. One study mentioned, carried out in 2007 showed that when persons donated money to a food bank, the ventral striatum region of their brain was activated. This area of the brain is involved in the experience of pleasure and reward, showing that giving does inherently make us happier. In Germany, meanwhile, Meier and Stutzer (2006) showed that those who performed volunteer work had greater life satisfaction. The study is vital because it shows that giving doesn’t always have to be about money. Sharing one’s time by making blankets or toys for needy children, for instance, is an equally important way to make a difference.
Giving is good for young and old alike: One particularly touching study involved elderly retired volunteers and infants. In this study, 10 elder volunteers with a mean age of 70 years were asked to massage infants at a nursery three times weekly for a period of three weeks. The elderly were also given massages at other times in the week. The researchers sought to observe the different effects caused by giving and receiving. The scientists found that “immediately after the first- and last-day sessions of giving massages, the elder retired volunteers had less anxiety and depression and lower stress hormones (salivary cortisol) levels. Over the three-week period, depression… decreased and lifestyle and health improved. These effects were not as strong for the three-week period when they received massage.” This is a particularly strong indication of the bond human beings share – the love for children and the need to care for others are almost universal feelings that we can fulfill by giving.
Volunteering and giving keeps awakens us to current problems facing society: When donating blankets, art supplies or toys, or volunteer our time to entertain children or the elderly, we begin to fully realize the vulnerability of the human condition. ‘There, for the grace of God, go you or I’ is a saying many volunteers repeat to themselves when faced with the devastation caused by poverty, HIV, and disease, not only in our area of the world but in third world countries as well. As we meet other volunteers and patients, we share and discover vital information such as the link between poverty and STDs, heart disease and Type II diabetes; or the devastating child poverty rate, even in so-called affluent countries. In this way, volunteering stops us from turning a blind eye to social problems and opens our eyes to the important role we can play in helping even just one person – with a little help, maybe that one well-fed, warm and happy child will one day change the world.
So….GET HAPPY! Get involved. Clean out your closets for a good cause!
Added to this article by President Carol Green/Relief Share:
Here are some of the items needed – go through the list, pick some, and send them to Relief Share, 6078 Lundy Rd., Houston, MO 65483-2225. Be sure to include your shipping information so we can send you a tax deductible receipt/thank you letter! We appreciate you!!
Baby Items: diapers, receiving blankets, sleepers, hats, booties, onesies, outfits, pants, tops, socks, swaddlers, baby cocoons, hygiene items (like soap, diaper cream, baby wash, q-tips, cotton balls, washcloths), diaper bags, soft toys, quilts, afghans, etc
Children’s items: clothing, toys, books, coloring books and crayons, videos, hair accessories, video games (these go to the hospital to keep kids occupied when spending long periods immobilized after surgery), soap, shampoo, conditioner, food (yes, many of our children don’t get enough to eat) – healthy snacks or Wal Mart gift cards for our volunteer shoppers to go get what is needed, such as milk, bread, cheese, oatmeal, basic fruits and vegetables etc. Quilts, afghans, etc
Adult Items: Clothing, quilts, afghans, books, hair items – brushes, combs, curling or straight irons (for women who are in homeless shelters or crisis centers due to domestic violence trying to get ready to work), hygiene items, washcloths, towels, soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, conditioner, food (basic healthy food items are great, WalMart gift cards for our volunteer shoppers to get what is needed is wonderful, too). Just think what you would need if you suddenly found yourself homeless and without anything – that is what is needed.
Animals – collars, food, litter, litter boxes, leashes, bedding, toys, flea and tick prevention products. We help a number of animal shelters with donations of needed items when they are donated in.
Supplies for volunteers to work with to make some of the items needed:
Knitting & Crochet Supplies: knitting machines, yarn, crochet hooks, knitting needles (Addi Turbo circular knitting needles in all sizes are a huge blessing for our volunteers to use – if you want to pick a size, the 14″ or 16″ length in size 7 is the most popular but we need the smaller sizes, like 5 and 6 for knitting booties and preemie hats, and larger circ needles for afghans are wonderful as well) We can never have enough knitting needles! Stitch markers. Yarn winders are really needed right now! Patterns.
Quilting supplies – fabric, thread, needles, templates, patterns, batting, rotary cutters, mats, etc
Sewing Supplies – fabric, scissors, thread, elastic, velcro, lace, binding, embroidery thread, sewing machines, sergers, fabric cutting machines, etc.
Office supplies – paper, labels, price tags (for our flea market booth), post it notes, pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, computers, speakers, printers, copiers, digital cameras. We have more than one location and when a machine breaks, it slows down the work.
Our dear volunteers and donors: Thank you for everything you do – from sharing your smile with someone to giving of your time to sew, knit, crochet or simply spread the word. We love all our volunteers who share their time, efforts, funds and love to make the lives of God’s sick and needy better. Volunteers unselfishly drive our donations to where they need to go, spend time going to flea markets and yard sales to try to get what is needed to stretch our dollars, people who spend countless hours listing and shipping charity auctions on ebay for us, and wonderful people like Eve Pearce who wrote this article for us to help others understand what it is that Relief Share does to make the world a better place is what makes the miracle of love happen. Thank you so much!