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Is Philanthropy the Key to Happiness?

Key and Heart

by BH Yao

Philanthropy is the act of giving or donating. Today it is generally associated with the voluntary giving to charitable causes, whether through money, time, services or through the donation of gifts, but the simple phrase of “looking after your neighbor” qualifies just as highly in philanthropic terms. Famous modern day philanthropists include Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and the late Paul Newman.

Much research has been done on the key to happiness and although there are a great many different ways and suggestions as to how we can pursue it, the act of helping others has been proven time and time again to have close links with the maintenance of one’s individual sense of happiness.


Medical research into a phenomenon known as “The Helper’s High” has brought about some very interesting results. For example, studies on groups of people volunteering money or time showed that they experienced a feeling of euphoria similar to that felt by those who had completed a physical challenge such as a race or run. As well as this high produced by helping others, researchers also found other possible health benefits such as the relief of pain, stress and sleeping difficulties.

Another study conducted by Elizabeth Dunn, PhD, Associate Professor and Social psychologist at The University of British Columbia used an experiment whereby volunteers were given $5 or $20 bills and then instructed randomly whether to spend the money on themselves or others at some point during the day. Data collected at the end of the day showed that those who had spent the money on others were happier than those who had spent it on themselves. This result and the results of several other experiments involving the relationship between giving and happiness has led Dunn to believe that social policy should include some sort of philanthropy in order to create a happier society.

Common sense has suggested throughout the ages that offering help to others can bring about a personal sense of reward and fulfilment, but with medical research indicating that personal benefits are directly connected to altruistic actions, it may indeed be argued that philanthropy is, if not THE key, one of the keys to happiness.

BH Yao invites the online community to read more articles on personal & professional development, building leadership, success skills, and helping people to unlock their true potential at Self Empowering Tips. Check out other articles on Blessing Vs Happiness.

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