(from The Pursuit of Happiness Website)
Most people who care for others in a selfless manner do so because of a genuine desire to help and improve the world around them. Nonetheless, modern psychological research has shown that caring has benefits for all involved; people who volunteer or care for others on a consistent basis tend to have better psychological well-being, including fewer depressive symptoms and higher life-satisfaction. Caring behavior even has physiological benefits, as current research shows that individuals who receive social support (a form of caring behavior) are more protected from disease and even death (e.g., Broadhead et al., 1983).
Although “caring” can involve volunteering as part of an organized group or club, can be as simple as reaching out to a workmate or classmate who looks lonely or is struggling with an issue. Studies show that people who reach out like this can benefit in multiple ways. Some individuals care for others through acts of altruism and organized volunteering, while others prefer monetary donations and engagement in communal relationships. The majority of studies agree that there is a significant association between caring for other’s well-being and increased positive affect. Several studies have found that this correlation appears to be highest in older adults who participate in volunteer activities (Morrow-Howell et al., 2003; Wheeler et al., 1998).
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