When you think about your children, what traits would you like them to grow up to have?
I would imagine that ‘kind’ and ‘generous’ are quite high up that list. These are qualities that we hope they’ll have, to make a positive impact on the world around them, to bring some happiness to other people in their lives.
What’s interesting though is that are lots of benefits to the person being generous too.
Here are 3 psychology-backed reasons we should all be generous more often.
Being generous makes us happy
Researchers have spent a lot of time looking into what is known as the ‘paradox of generosity‘.
What they’ve found is that, while it might not seem that it would be the case, being generous and giving our time, money and energy to other people can in turn make us feel happier.
A study at Harvard Business school found that being generous and giving causes our brains to release all sorts of feel-good chemicals like endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin.
It really does seem to be true that doing good makes us feel good, and this is built right into our neurochemistry. It’s a real innate part of being human.
Being generous gives us a health boost
As well as making us feel happier, being generous can also lower our stress and make us healthier.
Researchers have found that when we feel like we’re being tight with our money and time it really stresses us out. Whereas when we’re more generous our heart rates go down and we feel much calmer.
A study by researchers at Stony Brook University School of Medicine found that being generous can reduce our blood pressure by the same amount as medicine and exercise.
It does more than that though.
Generosity can also help to improve chronic pain management, reduce anxiety and lower the risk of dementia.
Pretty impressive stuff.
Being generous can improve our relationships
It makes sense that when our partners are generous towards us we’ll feel happier, loved and more content in the relationship.
But the person who is being generous tends to feel better in the relationship too.
A study was carried out that looked at generosity and its effect on marriage, and the researchers found that when one person was generous, both they and their partner expressed high levels of marital satisfaction.
So if we want to improve our relationships with our partners, and even our children, we can try being more generous with them. And this doesn’t have to mean buying them things all the time. It can involve being more generous with our time, our attention, and our affections.
One thing to remember with this though, is that it can’t be a one time deal.
To really get all the benefits we need to be generous on a regular, on-going basis. It needs to become a habit and a way of life.
When we’re more generous everyone benefits.
The people who receive our time, money and energy feel good.
We feel good.
And we teach our children a valuable lesson about sharing and generosity.