Happiness from being generous has a neural basis within the brain. Generous behavior is known to increase happiness, which could thereby motivate generosity. A recent study submitted to the journal Nature Communications that used functional magnetic resonance imaging concluded that giving makes us happy.
The researchers wrote in the journal Nature Communications that “our study provides behavioral and neural evidence that supports the link between generosity and happiness.” If you’re looking for a way to increase your happiness, giving or volunteering will surely warm your heart and put a smile on your face.
What inspires humans to display acts of generosity? Economists, psychologists and philosophers have pondered this question for millennia. If one assumes that human behavior is primarily motivated by self-interest, it seems illogical to willingly sacrifice resources for others.
In an attempt to solve this paradox, some experts have theorized that giving satisfies a desire to boost one’s standing in a group. Others have suggested it fosters tribal cooperation and cohesion — a key element in mammal survival. Yet another explanation is that we give only because we expect to receive something in return.
Scientists conducted an experiment with 50 people at a lab in Zurich who reported on their own happiness levels after acts of generosity. Consistently, they indicated that giving was a feel-good experience.
At the same time, MRI scans revealed that an area of the brain linked to generosity triggered a response in another part related to happiness.