Give and Feel Good

| 1/13/2014 10:00:00 AM

Tags: happiness, sharing, giving, Greater Good Science Center,

Giving Hand
The emotional benefits of altruism might be a human universal.

How do we make life meaningful? That question is at the core of a growing multidisciplinary movement focused on empathy, compassion, gratitude, and how to invite them into our daily lives. At the close of 2013, a crew at Greater Good—the online magazine of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center—culled and summarized the findings of ten notable happiness studies published last year. “The Top 10 Insights from the ‘Science of a Meaningful Life’ in 2013” originally appeared at Greater Good. This is part two of ten (parts one and three).

One of the most significant findings to have emerged from the sciences of happiness and altruism has been this: Altruism boosts happiness. Spending on others makes us happier than spending on ourselves—at least among the relatively affluent North Americans who have participated in this research.


But a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggested that this finding holds up around the world, even in countries where sharing with others might threaten someone’s own subsistence.