According to a recent study, more than four of every 10 Americans (41 percent) volunteered in 2009, and almost 70 percent of Americans made financial donations to an organization. Certainly, there are some altruistic reasons for giving of one's time and money, but a survey released by UnitedHealthcare and VolunteerMatch revealed that volunteers also receive physical and emotional benefits because they give.
In the September 2010 edition of SUCCESS Magazine, Publisher and Editorial Director Darren Hardy relayed: "Giving feels good, but there's more to it than that. Helping others incites physical and emotional responses within us. When we direct our energy and focus on meeting others' needs, we push aside our brooding and negative emotions, especially those that contribute to stress-induced psycholgocail and physical illnesses."
Hardy went on to say that when we help others, we "release extra amounts of endorphins into our system, and we get what researchers call a "helper's high." What's more, Hardy revealed, "giving has a direct impact on the body's neurological, hormonal and immune systems - it can even prolong your life."
One study found that older individuals who are actively involved in helping others outlive those who aren't. In fact, the physical benefits of helping others have been shown to have a greater impact on longevity than exercising four times a week.
What's more, the benefits of generosity extend beyond the physical, fostering traits that undergird a successful life. "As a result," Hardy said, "our careers and relationships often improve when we purposefully seek to make a difference in others' lives. And studies show that people of all ages who actively help others, even in small ways, feel the happiest."
Mehmet Oz, otherwise known as TV's "Dr. Oz," stated recently, "People who donate money are happier than people with the same amount of money who don't donate to others. Helping others inspires gratitude for what life has given you, and this is what really turbo-charges your happiness and helps you define your own purpose in life. After all, the real secret may be realizing that true peace isn't about being happy, giddy and feeling as if you're charged up on caffeine all the time. It's about slowing down enough to realize that you have a lot of gifts - gifts that you should be passing along to others."
Anyway you look at it, being generous offers the highest return for all those concerned, the giver and the givee. Or as Darren Hardy concluded, "What you earn and receives makes you a living; what you give and contribute makes you a life."