Do Generous People Live Longer?

We’ve all heard “it’s more blessed to give than to receive,” but did you know there’s scientific data to back it up?

Over the past 20 years experts have found that giving creates a “warm glow” of dopamine in the body; lighting up the same parts of the brain as eating dessert or receiving money.

In a study by the University of Zurich in Switzerland, Professor Philippe Tobler found that older people who practice generosity tend to have better health as well. It may be “as effective at lowering blood pressure as medication or exercise. Moreover, there is a positive association between helping others and life expectancy, perhaps because helping others reduces stress.”

While we naturally turn to generosity during the holidays, here are some unexpected ways you can give (and experience an endorphin boost) this season:

Pass along a family heirloom. Instead of buying something new or including it as a gift in your will, give a prized family possession this year – when you can surprise the recipient and enjoy their reaction.
Teach what you know. Some of the best gifts aren’t wrapped. Pass down your skill of knitting, carpentry, or a beloved family recipe with the techniques that can’t be written down, only demonstrated.
Give compassion. Does your loved one value a specific cause or group? Donate in their honor.
Include a personalized note. No matter how old we get, a genuine compliment goes a long way. Write down how you feel about your loved one. Recall a special memory you share or list words that remind you of them. What have they taught you?
Think long-term. Giving charitable gifts to an organization you love makes a huge difference, but have you ever thought about leaving a gift in your will to an organization you care about? This type of plan-ahead generosity will not only leave an impact for future generations but fill your heart with joy and satisfaction today too.

Turns out scientific research just proves what Proverbs has been saying all along, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” May you experience that special “warm glow” of generosity all season long.