Generosity is a cousin to kindness and has just as many benefits. Most people associate generosity with gifts, but it can extend to offering care, emotional support, or even mentoring or teaching. Generosity has been shown to have strong positive effects on health, longevity and relationships.
For one, it simply increases happiness. This is because doing good increases our dopamine levels, which makes us feel good…it’s just how our brains are wired, and this doesn’t just apply to one culture or economic boundary…it applies across economic lines. Increased happiness and life satisfaction also reduces stress for this very same reason. More generosity also means better relationships, which mean enhanced quality of life. Marriages that have generosity are tend to last longer as well according to this study. Being generous even decreases chronic pain, and also makes us feel more abundant as well.
There are many ways to practice generosity. For instance, donating to charity has the same feeling for your brain as having sex. Bet you didn’t know that one, we certainly didn’t. Here’s a simple one; if you have any left-over food, box it up and leave it for someone in need or donate food to your local charity. Midnight Mission is a great charity in Los Angeles if you’re in the area to get involved. In fact, if you’re in the LA area, there are a number of great organizations to sign up with. Other ways to offer a dose of generosity include picking up a piece of trash and putting into a nearby trashcan, if there’s one around. Offering someone a compliment – that you mean – can go a long way too. It easily changes the way people feel about themselves. Also, be nice to customer service employees! They work really hard, and remember their name, and letting them know you’re thankful for their help, whether they’re able to help you fully or not! This extends to the folks that are responsible for maintaining cleanliness in the spaces you visit.
Another great way to practice social generosity is to connect people who might be able to maintain a productive relationship. This increases social connections and can help you build your own network too. Plus, it’s fun. Small things like letting someone cut in front of you in line contributes to a sense of well-being. Opening a door for someone, smiling, or even just giving someone your full attention by listening well works too.