In the book, Dangerous Liaisons, the hedonistic Vicomte de Valmont wants to woo the virtuous Madame Marie de Tourvel. In order to show her how virtuous he is, he spends some time helping local villagers. After the experience, he writes that he thinks people who donate time and money are not so virtuous because the act of doing good things for others made him feel so good himself. Centuries later, science has found evidence that he may have been right. Whether you are making arrangements for a Purple Heart donation pick up, donating clothing to charity, or volunteering at a charity known for helping families in need, you will reap certain rewards in going good things for others. Here are a few benefits that scientists have found people get from giving back:
- It lowers your stress level. People may not realize this but the simple act of being a miser increases the amount of stress hormone people have floating around in their systems. A report in Scientific American showed that when people opt to keep more of their money, the amount of cortisol in their blood goes up. Over time, cortisol can have several very damaging effects on your body.
- It is good for your mental health. Along with the fact that you will have less cortisol in your body, studies show that people who give their time, or who set up Purple Heart donation pick ups, are generally happier than people who do not. Sometimes, this is called the “helper’s hight,” which is probably what the character Valmont was describing. Volunteering has been linked with lowering depression and increasing people’s satisfaction with their lives. Some research has shown that people live longer when they spend some of their time giving back to their community. Altruism is said to feed into a person’s psychological reward system.
- It makes people enjoy work more. People who spend time, whether it is making used clothing donations, giving away cash or just volunteering at a charity known for helping military families, people then go to work with a better attitude and are happier at work. These people feel more of a sense of commitment to their job and that means they are more likely to stay and not look for other work.
- It makes the world a better place. This can be seen throughout the animal kingdom. In people, being generous is better for everyone than being selfish but this is something that is not limited to people. Evidence of altruism can be seen in most species of animals and even insects. Lions have been seen helping injured animals of other species (when they are not trying to hunt them). You only have to go to YouTube to see case after case of one species of animal helping another to see that altruism may be hardwired in many biological systems.
- Generous people get that returned. It may not happen immediately but when you do something such as set up a Purple Heart donation pick up or volunteer to help someone else, at some point, that generosity will come back to you. It may not be from the person to whom you showed generosity but sociological research shows that it will come back. Like Earl says in My Name is Earl, “Do good things and good things happen.”
- You set a good example. Let’s say you set up a Purple Heart donation pick up, someone will see you do this. Your kind and generous deed can inspire them to do something generous. Then someone will see them doing it and you are back in that old Jirmack commercial, “You tell two friends then they tell two friends and so on and so on…” People are influenced by the actions of the people around them. People are more likely to do something good for others when they see other people doing the same.
People in the United States are generous. In 2014, we gave about $358.38 billion to charities. From setting up a Purple Heart donation pick up or arranging a clothing donation to volunteering at the local soup kitchen when you do things to help others, you do a lot to help yourself at the same time.