I recently came across an article written by Dr. Stephen Post, a professor of preventive medicine and bio-ethics at Stony Brook University School of Medicine wherein he stated, “Every great moral and spiritual tradition points to the truth that in giving of self lies the discovery of a deeper self.”

Dr. Post went to say that when the happiness, security and well-being of others become real to us, we come into our own. How inspiring.

This traditional wisdom is supported by scientific evidence. Brain scans show that people are made happier simply thinking about making a donation to help others. This happens because thoughts of helping activate the area in the brain that is associated with happiness.

Actual face to face helping also stimulates areas in the brain associated with happiness. A study of adults in the United States who volunteer their time to help others reports increased happiness in 96-percent of those volunteers compared with their non-helping counterparts. (See: Volunteering in the United States – 2014)

Other study findings include:

  • Improved sense of well-being (89 percent)
  • Lower stress levels (73 percent)
  • Better physical health (68 percent)
  • Enhanced emotional health (77 percent)
  • Enriched sense of purpose (92 percent)

In the workplace volunteer efforts lead to improved recruitment and retention, which benefit employers as well as employees.

  • 71-percent of employees who participate in workplace volunteer activities feel positive about their employers;
  • More than 1/3 of these employees were “very satisfied” with the progression of their careers; and
  • It is well documented that happy employees are more engaged, productive and likely to stay.

Related Reading:

The Hidden Gifts of Helping and Why Good Things Happen to Good People, by Dr. Stephen Post
Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America–and How We Can Get More of It, by Arthur Brooks
Happiness and Philanthropy – The Lodestar Foundation (articles that discuss the link between happiness and philanthropy)