Engaging in selfless actions can bring you joy. Yet, have you ever encountered the seamless delight you can experience after sharing something with others or doing something for someone? Contributing through donations or volunteering can enhance the lives of others, but were you aware that it could also be beneficial for your own well-being? The benefits of contributing are such that you can experience an immediate improvement in mood. You can also establish a sense of purpose and direction when you comprehend that the lives of others can be positively influenced by what you do.
A correlation between joy and spending money on causes and charities was uncovered in a 2008 study published in the Science journal. Conversely, the study demonstrated that money that was used by participants on new things or personal expenses did not have any impact on joy. Another study, disclosed in the Emotion journal in 2016, indicated that performing “spontaneous acts of kindness” for others can help to elevate mood.
What are the mental well-being advantages of contributing?
Contributions have a positive impact on the giver’s mental well-being in multiple ways. When you donate conscientiously, leveraging your unique strengths and capabilities, you not only bestow something of significant value but also engage in an activity that is rewarding for you. This helps foster not only a sense of connection, but also joy and gratitude. This enhances your emotional and psychological wellness, states psychotherapist, life and business coach Dr Chandni Tugnait.
Here are some ways contributing can be beneficial for your well-being:
1. The pleasure of contributing
The pleasure that arises from contributing is one of the most straightforward benefits to mental well-being. Contributing, whether a small present or a considerable gesture, makes us feel happy and content, which can elevate our mood and overall well-being.
2. Alleviation of stress
Contributing has the potential to alleviate stress. When a person engages in acts of kindness or contributing to those in need, oxytocin, which is a hormone associated with stress reduction, is released. Hence, givers often experience reduced stress and anxiety levels.
3. Mitigation of depression
Contributing can mitigate symptoms of depression, which can be managed by drawing upon one’s sense of purpose and the gratifying emotions that result from helping others.
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4. Increased life satisfaction
Contributing is perceived as a fulfilling way of life. It enhances our sense of purpose and fulfillment in life, which elevates our overall life satisfaction.
Contributing fosters empathy and compassion, as per the expert. Reflecting on the needs and emotions of others promotes empathy.
6. Positive impact on cognitive function
The act of contributing may help enhance brain regions associated with reward and pleasure, which positively impacts cognitive function, as per Dr Tugnait.
7. Cultivating gratitude
Contributing instills a sense of gratitude and heightens our awareness of the blessings in our own lives. It can lead to greater gratitude and feelings of appreciation.
Contributing is a noble gesture, and every act of kindness has the potential to inspire others. When people witness acts of contributing, they are often inspired to contribute themselves, creating a cycle of generosity that can transform communities. However, it can go too far if it causes you to overextend yourself and neglect your needs. Overcommitting to volunteer work or humanitarian causes can lead to burnout.
Therefore, balance heartfelt generosity with prudent self-care. By periodically recharging and replenishing your own resources, you generate the endurance to continue contributing at a sustainable pace, for the greater good.
Next time, you choose to assist a neighbor with groceries or help a housemate with chores, remember to rejuvenate yourself first.