For it is in giving that we receive.” –St. Francis of Assisi

We all know the sayings about how it’s better to give than receive-and in our hearts we know this to be true. Just think about a time when you helped someone and how it made you feel? Chances are, it gave you a warm happy feeling inside. But does giving truly come from the heart, or are our brains hard-wired to serve others?

This inspiring article excerpt from Live Sicence looks at the hard data to back up the idea that giving is good for the giver.

The Science behind the power of Giving
by Jenny Santi

At the University of California, Berkeley, researchers are challenging long-held beliefs that human beings are hardwired to be selfish. There is a growing body of evidence that shows we are evolving to become more compassionate and collaborative in our quest to survive and thrive.

"Because of our very vulnerable offspring, the fundamental task for human survival and gene replication is to take care of others," said Dacher Keltner, co-director of UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center. “Human beings have survived as a species because we have evolved the capacities to care for those in need and to cooperate.”

Data backs this up. The National Institutes of Health conducted research studying what happened in the brain when subjects donated or opposed donation at a cost to themselves. The study involved 19 people, each of whom had the potential to walk away with a pot of $128. Participants gave an average of $51 from the pot and pocketed the rest.

The brain-study results demonstrated that when the volunteers placed the interests of others before their own, the generosity activated a primitive part of the brain that usually lights up in response to food or sex. Donating affects two brain "reward" systems working together: the midbrain VTA, which also is stimulated by food, sex, drugs and money; as well as the subgenual area, which is stimulated when humans see babies and romantic partners.

Altruism: the miracle drug

The idea of altruism behaving like a miracle drug has been around for at least two decades. The euphoric feeling we experience when he help others is what researchers call the "helper's high," a term first introduced 20 years ago by volunteerism and wellness expert Allan Luks to explain the powerful physical sensation associated with helping others.

In a 1988 piece for Psychology Today, Luks looked at the physical effects of giving experienced by more than 1,700 women who volunteered regularly. The studies demonstrated that a full 50 percent of helpers reported feeling "high" when they helped others, while 43 percent felt stronger and more energetic. 

To read the Live Science article in its entirety, go to The Science Behind the Power of Giving.

One of GloryBee’s core values is stewardship. We encourage everyone to share their time, talent and treasures with someone less fortunate than yourself. Give, give, give. You won’t regret it; and that’s a scientific fact!