Thursday, April 24, 2008

Doing Good, Makes You Feel Good

A while back I came across this article, published on, written by Ian Hodder. Very thought provoking, for sure!

"Is philanthropy as good as sex? Well, not exactly, though scientists have discovered that the act of donating to charity stimulates the brain’s pleasure centers. What they see is a “glow” in the same brain areas that occur during sex or a good meal. In other words, giving feels good.

Could these warm and fuzzy feelings be the reason for Americans’ generosity? As a country, we shelled out a record $295 billion to charity in 2006, according to the Giving USA Foundation's yearbook. Of that amount, $223 billion, or 75.6 percent, came from individual people. Those numbers are dying for an explanation," says economist Paul J. Zak, director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California. By investigating the brain and human behavior, scientists are starting to discover why giving is pleasurable. "Economists have always questioned altruism," Zak adds, "but recent studies have found that virtuous behaviors activate reward regions of the brain."

Ever since Charles Darwin, researchers have pondered the roots of altruism. They have observed it in animals both simple (amoebas will give their lives so others in their cluster can live) and advanced (chimpanzees will share a tool regardless of whether they're physically rewarded). Perhaps generosity is a biological urge. Evidence that the "joy of giving" is hardwired into the brain came last spring from National Institutes of Health neuroscientists Jordan Grafman and Jorge Moll. They measured brain activity in subjects who were asked to decide whether to donate money or keep it for themselves. When they chose the altruistic option, activity increased in the midbrain, a region associated with pleasures such as food and sex."

Want to feel good? Then do something good; for someone else! Giving does make us rich. Or as St. Francis of Assisi said "It is in giving, that we receive."

An effortless way to give can be by way of donating to charity, whether it is your time or your money (or both!). Once again this year, I will be participating in AIDS Walk Boston to help raise funds for Boston-based AIDS Action Committee, a local charity that I really believe in and am happy to support. Can you help? I am counting on the generosity and kindness of people like you to sponsor my walk by making a contribution today. You can safely and securely make a donation online, by visiting my online fundraising page. To do so, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

Donations of all sizes are welcome and appreciated. Every penny counts!

Thank You!

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