The inability to see the direct benefits of charitable action keeps many from contributing to charity and advocacy. However, there are several individual benefits to charity despite being unable to see the direct impacts of donation.
Below are the top 3 individual benefits of charitable action.
- Numerous studies show that people who act charitably and compassionately are often happier. In a psychological study on compassion by Barbara Fredrickson in 2008, participants of compassionate meditation showed increased levels of daily happiness. Also, participants experienced less depression and had higher satisfaction with life. Another study by the National Institutes of Health reported a similar finding in their research on donation. Participants of this study who donated money experienced activated pleasure centers in their brain.Findings of the Do Good Live Well Survey also reported higher happiness in charitable people. The survey consisted of 4,500 Americans, of whom 41 percent were volunteers. Of those volunteers, 89 percent claimed that volunteering had improved their overall wellbeing and 73 percent reported that it lowered their stress.
- As well as improving overall happiness, charitable action has also been shown to improve overall health. In the 2008 compassion study by Fredrickson, participants of compassionate meditation were in better physical shape.The Do Good Live Well Survey reported the same, as 68 percent of volunteers said that volunteering made them feel physically better. Compassion was also shown to boost immune and stress responses, according to a 2009 study by Thaddeus Pace.
- Charitable action has the capacity to improve important life skills such as empathy, helpfulness, and money handling. A study done by Antoine Luiz in 2008 shows how compassion impacts people’s ability to process their own and others’ emotions. The brains of participants were scanned, which showed the brain regions responsible for emotional processing were enhanced for those who completed compassionate meditation.Another study by Jennifer Mascaro in 2013 investigated further into the impact of compassion on empathy. Participants in the study were given the “Mind in Eyes Test” to evaluate their empathic accuracy. The participants who had completed a course on compassion scored higher on the test, meaning that compassion enhanced empathic accuracy.Compassionate people were also found to be more helpful, according to a 2011 study done by Susanne Leiberg. Those who participated in the study played the Zurich Prosocial Game, which tests whether they respond when others are distressed. Participants who went through compassion training before taking the test “demonstrated more pro-social behavior,” meaning that they were more helpful.
Lastly, charitable action improves personal money management through scheduled donation. Having a scheduled donation to a charity calls for closer attention to personal finances, thus training people to be attentive to their bank account. On top of this, many charities grant a tax deduction.
Charitable action goes beyond helping those in need. Compassion and charity also can improve individual lives by making them happier, healthier and more skilled.
– Haley Hurtt