You’ve just spent an afternoon volunteering at the local animal shelter and suddenly you feel it—that warm and fuzzy feeling inside your chest that prompts you to crack a smile…

It’s almost impossible to contain your happiness after witnessing a family adopt an old Labrador Retriever you’ve nursed back to health. Wow! What an awesome moment. You were a part of something seriously special and it feels pretty great.

Why is it that we feel so fulfilled after giving our time to others? According to a recent ABC News segment, volunteering not only improves our psychological health, but also our physiological health. Recent studies have shown that volunteering our time to those in need triggers a response in the “pleasure center” of our brains, thus filling us with happiness and glee.

Upon observing the brain’s mental reaction to giving, researchers decided to monitor the body’s physical response to volunteering and found some fantastic patterns. It turns out that those who volunteer regularly have lower blood pressure, are less depressed, and even live longer!

It’s important to make giving a habit, just like eating healthy and exercising. Think of all the good you can do each and every day if you just give a little bit.

So, the moral of the story is: giving back not only helps others, but it also helps you.

If you’d like to learn more, check out ABC’s feature about the science behind giving.

 

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