We can all agree that giving to charity is a good thing to do. But did you know that giving is good for your health? As it turns out, giving to charity makes you happier, healthier, reduces stress and increases longevity.
Healthy house = healthy life
As anyone who’s tried out feng shui can tell you, decluttering your house can reduce your stress level. A house functions best when it’s clean, much like we function best when we’re healthy. When you make your house into a more restful environment, your mental health will improve. Doing a deep clean and then donating your old stuff is even better for you, because not only are you clearing out items that create unnecessary strain on your living space, but you’re also helping someone in need.
Giving makes you happy
Yes, it’s true—giving makes you happy. Social psychologists recently did a study where students were given $20. Half of them were told to buy themselves something and half were told to give the money away or use it to do something for another person. The students who gave money away reported much greater levels of happiness at the end of the day than the ones who spent it on themselves! Even more broadly, people who give money to charity are 43% more likely than non-givers to say they are “very happy” with their lives.
Philanthropy improves your health
There are benefits of philanthropy (besides the black-tie kind). Giving increases your sense of gratitude, which in turn decreases stress. Also, a UC Berkeley study found that altruistic behavior actually releases endorphins, a phenomenon which they call the “helper’s high”.
Volunteering increases your lifespan
Want to live longer? Try lending a hand at your favorite nonprofit. That same Berkeley study found that elderly people who volunteered for two or more charities were 44% less likely to pass away over a five-year period (even taking into account age, exercise, overall health, and habits like smoking).
The personal and health benefits of philanthropy go on and on. You can donate your stuff, your money, or your time and watch your happiness grow!
Lauren Anderson is a 2013 fall project management intern at Zealous Good, an in-kind donations marketplace in Chicago. You can find Lauren on Google+ or Zealous Good on Facebook and Zealous Good on Twitter at @ZealousGood.