Generosity Cheers Mind, Body and Spirit

Altruistic Acts Activate Happiness Neurons in the Brain




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A Swiss study gave volunteers $25 a week for four weeks, and told half of them to spend the money on themselves and the others to spend it to benefit others. Subsequent brain scans revealed a link between the altruistic acts and feelings of contentment, activating neurons in the ventral striatum associated with happiness. Even the intention alone to be more generous was enough to create these changes, and the amount spent did not influence the increase in levels of well-being. The discovery sheds fresh light on why many people feel gratified when giving, even when it costs them something.


This article appears in the January 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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