Giving to others is a core tenant of the Christian faith, as well as a fundamental part of being human. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4) We give to help our friends, neighbors, community members, and those in need, but the good news is: in giving, we get so much in return. Let’s take a closer look at the wide range of benefits that come from giving back.
Do Unto Others
Several studies by leading socialists suggest that people who help others are more likely to have good things happen to them as well1. But perhaps more importantly — and altruistically —giving promotes cooperation and empathy in others. When we treat someone with kindness and reach out to help, they’ll be more likely to return the favor if not to you, then to someone else.
Beyond the giver and recipient, giving can create a wide-reaching positive ripple effect. One study completed by researchers at UC San Diego found that just one person’s generous act inspired observers to behave generously toward other people as well, and that those people were in turn motivated to give to others — creating a network of altruism1. So even just one small active of kindness can touch many lives.
The Gift of Happiness
Helping and giving to others is a powerful way to change your perspective and make you feel more positive about yourself and the world around you. A simple act of kindness can instantly lift your mood and spirits, boost your self-confidence, and put you in a better state of mind. That’s because doing generous deeds can activate the reward centers of your brain, which in turn creates positive feelings2.
In fact, research shows that giving back can help decrease symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, and can even stimulate neural changes in the brain that make people feel happier1. Helping others can also help us regulate our own emotions and improve our emotional well-being1.
When it comes to money, studies show that giving it to others who need it makes people happier than spending it on themselves1. Research also reveals that giving to charities can activate the regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust — creating that “warm glow” effect. What’s more, these feelings can last several hours after the act of kindness has been done1.
Gratitude, Belonging and Purpose
Giving to others can be an expression of gratitude as well as generosity. We can give to someone as a way of saying thank you, showing our appreciation, or sharing our blessings. Evidence supports that expressing gratitude for others is a powerful way to create connection and increase our own personal happiness1.
Giving to others reminds us that we are not alone, and that we are part of a community and something greater than ourselves. Helping others can help strengthen relationships , and meet a basic psychological need to connect3. Giving back can also provide the giver with a deeper sense of purpose and meaning, and thus a greater sense of satisfaction2.
Giving to others has shown to have a positive effect on people’s physical health. Studies suggest that acts of kindness directed at one another can strengthen the immune system and increase the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps your nervous system and brain communicate with each other2.
Research indicates that giving to others delivers increases health benefits for people with chronic illness, including the elderly. One study found that seniors who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44% less likely to die over a five-year period than their non-volunteering peers. Researchers believe this may be in part because giving back is an effective way to reduce stress and lower blood pressure1.
Sharing the Health
The benefits of giving are at the heart of Christian health sharing. With a faith-based health share program, members form a supportive community of likeminded individuals agree to share the expenses of medical care. By doing so, members of Christian health sharing programs can save hundreds of dollars in healthcare costs each month.
Faith-based health sharing members continually show kindness and gratitude by pitching in — financially, emotionally, and spiritually — to help others in their community during difficult times. This culture of sharing and giving supports healthier, happier, more connected humans — while lowering the cost of quality care for all. Learn more about Christian health share programs and how they offer a kinder approach to helping people live healthier.