YOU ALL KNOW how good it feels to give someone you love a gift, but research has now conclusively proved that giving makes you happier. The University of Zurich monitored the brain activity of 50 people who were asked to either spend money on themselves or others. The results revealed those who spent money on others, no matter how small the amount, were happier and more uplifted compared to those who treated themselves, as evidenced by increased activity in their brains. ‘You don’t need to become a self-sacrificing martyr to feel happier,’ says researcher Philippe Tobler.
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‘Just being a little more generous will suffice. Even little things have a beneficial effect, like bringing a coffee for your office mates.’ In fact, the study found that simply promising to behave generously towards someone generated a change in the brain, leaving the person feeling more content and lifting their mood. Other research suggests that making generosity a regular habit can have a lasting effect on your wellbeing. ‘There is a positive association between helping others and life expectancy, perhaps because helping others reduces stress,’ adds Philippe.