It turns out you can buy happiness as long as you don’t try to buy it for yourself. According to researchers, making a donation to a non-profit organization can trigger the same pleasurable effect in the brain as eating chocolate.
Thanks to functional MRI technology which allows monitoring of brain activity in real time, researchers have learned that when a person donates to a worthy cause, the same region of the brain lights up as when one satisfies a particular craving. This pleasure response is the physiological reason behind the “warm glow” or good feeling you get when you give—and why many people choose to donate to charities.
So, does giving really make us happier? According to the survey and study, Prosocial Spending and Happiness: Using Money To Benefit Others Pays Off, by researchers Dunn, Aknin and Norton, it does!
Giving is satisfying, particularly when your donation supports something you care about. As we approach the end of the 2015 tax year, think about how you might give more in ways to maximize your happy “warm glow” and to help others. It may not be as good as chocolate, but your dentist will be proud.
Ways You Can Maximize Your Happiness When Giving:
- Make a charitable gift before December 31 and you also may see a tax break for the year if you itemize deductions on your tax return. Even if you don’t itemize deductions, you can make a gift from your IRA without any undesirable tax effects if you are 70 ½ years old or older.
- Give cash or stocks (especially appreciated securities), which are always treasured—even more so when you prepay an amount of a pledge or make larger than usual charitable gifts.
- Share your gift and the resulting “warm glow” with others, or let us share the news of your generosity and support with the public. The humble side of you may want to keep your donation anonymous, but it is positive reinforcement for a good act and will most likely increase your satisfaction of giving. Sharing your support through a donation also helps encourage others to give.