How generosity changes your brain



Staff member
How generosity changes your brain - Big Think

Money can buy happiness — if you spend it on others, research suggests.

Imagine you're really selfish. How should you spend your resources to maximize your happiness?

Instead of buying more stuff for yourself, research suggests that giving to people or causes you care about is more likely to do the trick. Giving not only helps others, but it also rewards yourself in measurable ways, so much so that it may even increase your lifespan. People seem to understand this intuitively.

"When we tell people, 'Hey, did you know that giving to other people can make you happy?' most people are not blown away," Michael Norton, professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, told Big Think. "They understand. They've had [charitable] experiences that make them happy."

However, it's harder to understand why giving makes us happy. That's partly because receiving money feels rewarding, too, and also because certain approaches to giving seem to be more effective than others — both in terms of making us feel good and helping us to make giving a habit.