Are there benefits in doing good deeds?
“Do good and good will follow you;” I distinctly remember this admonition being given to me as a child by my parents. Many persons may attest to these words being repeated as the mantra they should live by. The way we treat others was ultimately our process of planting a seed, so that goodness and kindness will be reciprocated towards us. That was deem to be the ultimate benefit of doing a good deed for most who fully subscribe to the understanding of karma; for others it may have been the joy that comes from the innate gratification of being a good person.
Studies indicate that the very act of giving back to the community boosts your happiness, health, and sense of well-being. Here are seven scientific benefits of lending a hand to those in need:
1. HELPING OTHERS CAN HELP YOU LIVE LONGER.
Want to extend your lifespan? Think about regularly assisting at a soup kitchen or doing projects with the less fortunate to upgrade their living situation. Research has shown that these kinds of activities can improve health in ways that can extend your lifespan —volunteers show an improved ability to manage stress and stave off disease, as well as reduced rates of depression and an increased sense of life satisfaction — when they were performed on a regular basis. This might be because volunteering alleviates loneliness and enhances our social lives — these factors will be able to significantly affect our long-term health.
2. ALTRUISM IS CONTAGIOUS.
When one person performs a good deed, it causes a chain reaction of other altruistic acts. One study found that people are more likely to perform feats of generosity after observing another do the same. This effect can ripple throughout the community, inspiring dozens of individuals to make a difference.
3. HELPING OTHERS MAKES US HAPPY.
One team of sociologists tracked 2000 people over a five-year period and found that persons who described themselves as “very happy” volunteered at least 5.8 hours per month. This heightened sense of well-being might be the byproduct of being more physically active as a result of volunteering, or because it makes us more socially active. Researchers also think that giving back might give individuals a mental boost by providing them with a neurochemical sense of reward.
4. HELPING OTHERS MAY HELP WITH CHRONIC PAIN.
According to one study, people who suffered from chronic pain tried working as peer volunteers. As a result, they experienced a reduction in their own symptoms.
5. HELPING OTHERS LOWERS BLOOD PRESSURE.
If you’re at risk for heart problems, your doctor has probably told you to cut back on red meat or the hours at your stressful job. However, you should also consider adding something to your routine: a regular volunteer schedule. One piece of research showed that older individuals who volunteered for at least 200 hours a year decreased their risk of hypertension by a significant 40 percent. This could possibly be because they were provided with more social opportunities, which help relieve loneliness and the stress that often accompanies it.
6. HELPING OTHERS PROMOTES POSITIVE BEHAVIOURS IN TEENS.
According to sociologists, teenagers who volunteer have better grades and self-image.
7. HELPING OTHERS GIVES US A SENSE OF PURPOSE AND SATISFACTION.
Looking for more meaning in your day-to-day existence? Studies show that volunteering enhances an individual’s overall sense of purpose and identity — particularly if they no longer hold a life-defining role like “worker” or “parent”.
In summary, helping is associated with increased happiness and health, but moderation and balance is vital to alleviate feeling burdened by the caring process, such as in the case of long-term care-givers. Though there is evidence that giving for pleasure is associated with higher self-esteem, life satisfaction and positive feelings, giving under pressure is not. There are times when we need to give because it is the compassionate response and the right thing to do, such as in times of crisis or need.
However, as a general rule, we should try to match our giving activities to things that we find inherently enjoyable, in line with our own goals and feel are worthwhile for ourselves as well as the recipient. If we are happy givers, the recipients will likely benefit more and we are more likely to continue to give.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson