By Jamie Gruman Ph.D.
John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, wrote that “you have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” But research shows that when we do things for others, we do get repaid. Not just through reciprocation, but as a result of the psychological benefits acts of benevolence produce in the giver.
In one study researchers asked people to either perform acts of kindness for other people for four weeks, such as allowing a stranger to share their umbrella in the rain, or to perform kind acts for themselves for four weeks, such as going shopping and buying themselves a little gift. At the start and end of the study the researchers measured the participants’ level of psychological flourishing, made up of emotional, psychological, and social well-being. By the end of the study the people who had performed kind acts for others had higher levels of psychological flourishing compared to those who acted kindly towards themselves. Benevolent acts also led to higher levels of positive emotions. In short, demonstrating altruism not only benefits others, but makes us feel better ourselves.
Read it on Psychology Today.