Even science says it is better to give than to receive

Photo by Jonathan.
Photo by Jonathan_W.

By CECELIA MARSHALL for Arizona Daily Wildcat

Published February 14, 2013

We’ve all heard that it is better to give than to receive, and occasionally we follow this motto during specific times of the year – the holiday season for example. The rest of the year, though, you can bet we’re all too focused on what we need and want for ourselves to think of others.

But in a recent study by the University of Buffalo, which took five years and three universities to establish, scientists have found it’s actually better for your health to give than receive. “How” you ask?

About 900 subjects were interviewed about stressful events in their lives during the past year and the occasions they assisted or gave tangible items to their friends or family. The subjects did things like providing transportation to people they did not live with or did errands, housework and the shopping for them.

“We tested the hypothesis that providing help to others would predict a reduced association between stress and mortality for the helpers,” said Michael J. Poulin, P.H.d., the principal investigator.

As it turns out, the study found that stressful situations were less likely to contribute to a person’s death when they’re also helping others. It’s kind of morbid, but poignant nonetheless.
Now, I understand it’s harder as college students to go out on a shopping spree for others when we can barely afford the sterile tasting ramen noodles we eat every night, but it’s something that can be easily done no matter how you stand financially or how much time you have.

Photo by Howard Cheng
Photo by Howard Cheng

Our generation wasn’t raised to be very giving. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. But it’s also something we can fix by changing the little things in life.

You can donate clothes and items to Goodwill we don’t use anymore. Or how about babysitting at no charge for a couple who hasn’t been on a date in months? Even the gift of a smile is enough to brighten someone’s day and give you your health benefits.

Even Ben’s Bell’s started a “Be Kind, Step Up” to encourage acts of kindness by giving out bracelets to those who were caught paying it forward.

Whether you can do it or not, you should try to pass it along.

To see the study:
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-02/uab-sfi020413.php

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