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It is a familiar concept that giving back, donating, and volunteering is good for the soul. In fact, studies confirmed this notion. Researchers at the University of British Columbia conducted a situational study to learn more about the act of giving in which one volunteer was given money to spend on themselves, and another volunteer was given money to spend on someone else. The results found that people were happier when they spent the money on other people. What’s more, the results showed that the amount of money spent on the other held no significance. No matter how big or small, the act of giving makes us feel good.

Not only do we know that volunteering and giving back is good for the soul, but it has also been proven that it is good for your health. The Corporation for National & Community Service conducted research that found charitable work literally makes the heart grow stronger. The results showed that volunteers have fewer incidents of heart disease, that those who began volunteering after suffering a heart attack reported a decrease in depression and despair, and that volunteering adds years to life. Giving advice, money, food, support, or aid to others is related to reduced blood pressure and enhanced sleep as well.

Interestingly enough, studies have shown that self-motivated reasons for giving back did not result in the same benefits. Only when the charitable giving was altruistic, or driven by compassion towards and connection with others, were individuals more likely to live longer and experience increased happiness.

Giving back is not solely about taking action or donating money. It also has to do with connecting with your passions and learning the meaning of generosity. Here are three reasons why charitable giving is good for the soul.

Optimism Awaits

Although we may always be aware of it, our perception of the world is primarily shaped by our thoughts, actions, and environments. So if you are helping others and witnessing the impact it has, you will be more capable of seeing the good in the world. While volunteering, you will meet others who also care and want to help, which will allow you to open your eyes to all the good people in the world.

Find Yourself

Charitable giving helps people find themselves. Just as our education and jobs help us hone in on who we are as individual people, giving back allows you to look at your true reflection. The way we choose to give back and how we go about it reflect who we really are.

Distractions

Stress and depression have become key terms over the past several years, and some of the leading (non-consumption related) causes of heart disease. However, volunteering and giving back have been proven to detract from these health issues. Focusing on others’ issues and how you can be of aid allows for a mental break from reality. Once you’ve found a solution or a way to help, you can come back to your issue refreshed and aware of its magnitude (or lack thereof).