New research shows that when people give, especially when they start young, everything from life-satisfaction to self-realization and physical health is significantly affected.
A study conducted by the nation's top universities – including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford and the University of Chicago – revealed people who are "giving" see the benefits of delayed mortality, reduced depression and increased well-being and good fortune.
The research, reported by the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, includes a 50-year study that found giving protects overall health twice as much as aspirin protects against heart disease. People who are giving during high school years were found to have better physical and mental health throughout their lives. And people of all ages that help others on a regular basis, even in small ways, feel the happiest.
"Giving is as good for the giver as it is for the receiver," said Dr. Stephen Post, bioethicist and co-author of the upcoming book, Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How Daily Giving Is the Key to Health, Happiness, and a Long Life.
"We'll be happier, healthier, and even – odds are – living a little longer if we're generous," he said, according to ABC News.
"Public health isn't just about bugs and staying away from lead. It's about doing unto others, and at the right dose, science says it's very good for you."
Post's book offers 10 ways to give of yourself which are all proven by science to improve your health and life expectancy.
People who give money show brain activity that's associated with feel-good chemicals like dopamine, reported ABC. The same brain activity happens when you receive money.
"Those brain structures that are activated when you get a reward are the same ones that are activated when you give. In fact, they're activated more," National Institutes of Health neuroscientist Jordan Grafman told ABC.
In Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Post and science journalist Jill Neimark detail the compassionate lives of such believers as Susie Kraubacher, a former Playboy model who after finding faith in Christ began running three orphanages in Haiti; Christian physician Richard Fratianne, who practices and teaches agape love to a young burn survivor who endured 12 surgeries, prosthetic legs and months of therapy; and Dr. Otis Moss Jr., a renowned African American pastor who was a leader of the 1960s sit-in movement in Atlanta and led other non-violent activism.
Also featured is a "Love and Longevity Scale" that scores a person on volunteering, listening, loyalty, forgiveness, and other ways of giving. Mid-April, the authors plan to launch whygoodthingshapen.com, which offers a monthly quiz to help readers create a personalized plan for a more generous life.
Why Good Things Happen to Good People is slated for release in May.