While looking at pictures of puppies and eating copious amounts of chocolate is what we usually associate with increased happiness, research has found another way to put a smile on your dial more often.
Results of a recent study out of the Department of Economics at the University of Zurich show a strong link between generosity and happiness.
In the study, 48 people were given a sum of money on a weekly basis, half were tasked with spending it on themselves while the others were told to perform acts of generosity toward others. Before and after the four week period, all participants were asked to report their level of happiness.
They found that the people who had performed acts of generosity – no matter how small – rated themselves as happier after the experiment. Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine the brain mechanisms that link this behaviour with happiness, concluding that altruistic acts activated an area of the brain associated with the reward cycle.
Co-author of the study, Profs. Phillipe Tobler, says, "You don't need to become a self-sacrificing martyr to feel happier. Just being a little more generous will suffice.”
So let this be a little inspiration to pay it forward today.