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Window into Wellness

Natasha Bhalla




Giving Your Way to Better Health and Happiness

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself

in the service of others,” advised the great Ma-

hatma Gandhi.

Scientific studies have now proven that Gandhi’s

advice was right on target. Giving to others,

whether financially, physically or through social

connection, lights up areas in the brain associated

with security, pleasure and happiness and boosts

health and wellness. As we enter a new year, it

seems fitting we add giving to others onto our list

of resolutions.

Whether you’re giving your time volunteering,

donating goods or money or simply holding the

door for the next person to pass through, giving

feels good. Altruistic behavior releases endorphins,

our “happy” hormone, creating a “helper’s high.”

This flood of positive emotions improves health

and wellness. When in a calm and content state,

which giving to others produces, the body’s relax-

ation response is triggered, allowing for reparation

and healing. This decreases the severity and recur-

rence of disease in the body.

The feel-good hormone triggered by giving to

others lowers blood pressure, decreases chronic

pain, and even fights heart attacks and cardiac

arrest. Giving increases the efficiency and strength

of the immune system and allows the body to fight

colds and even allergies. Moreover, giving increas-

es serotonin, another important chemical in the

body that fights depression and anxiety. All these

effects in combination increase life expectancy and

overall wellbeing.

The flood of positive emotions created by giving

to others also lowers stress. Generosity is linked

with an increased sense of self and pride while

stinginess is connected to an increase in shame

and stress. Studies show those who give gener-

ously of their time and money have lower levels

of cortisol, which is also known as the stress hor-

mone. High cortisol levels put us at an increased

risk of suppressed immunity, hypertension and

even bone loss.

The benefits of being liberal with your time

and money also include improved interpersonal

relationships. Those who give and share are per-

ceived as more trustworthy, kind and responsible.

This fosters solid relationships and an increase

in trust and respect between individuals. This in-

creased trust results in more interdependence and


Giving improves relationships with friends, fam-

ily members and even clients by boosting intimacy

and closeness. Furthermore, studies have found