We at Life University (Life U) operate under the principle of Lasting Purpose: To live an inner-directed life, to give, to do, to love, to serve, out of your own abundance. Giving back to others around us is a natural extension of that. But did you know there are actually health benefits to giving back to your community?

It might sound like some feel-good wisdom, but the Cleveland Clinic outlines the health implications in their article “Why Giving Is Good for Your Health”. Most likely due in part to a biological imperative to build a strong community for safety in numbers, our brains are wired to emotionally reward us for helping others. When you help someone else or give gifts, your brain releases chemical signals that make you feel happier and more at peace. For example, you will most likely have elevated serotonin levels, which regulate the mood. Dopamine also comes into play, giving a sense of pleasure. Lastly, oxytocin fosters a sense of connection to others. These hormones in combination can be a potent mix, so it makes sense why some people become very committed to altruism. There is even evidence of what some call a ‘helper’s high’, where giving can stimulate the brain’s mesolimbic pathway (reward center) as well as releasing endorphins that can boost self-esteem and combat depression.

Other more surprising health benefits can present themselves as well. Some compelling research indicates that giving to others can lower blood pressure. So having a compassionate heart helps you to have a healthier heart! Less stress is also a good motivator, as gift-giving and volunteering can reduce cortisol levels. 

How to get started

People often count dollars and cents when they think about giving, and while monetary giving is helpful and appreciated, giving of your time is just as valuable. There are so many simple ways to help people in our daily lives. Do you know a neighbor who struggles with walking their dog? Offer to walk it for them. Does a family member need a babysitter? Take the kids off their hands for a night or two. Is a friend of yours sick? Bring over a favorite meal.

Also, if you have special skills, talent or simply some time to contribute, consider using those to help a local charitable organization. There are so many different causes and ways you can help. Get plugged in today!

Slice of LIFE is an invitation to and extension of everything happening at Life University. Whether you are a current student, a potential freshman or a proud alum, Slice of LIFE can help keep you connected to your academic community. Know of a compelling Life U story to be shared, such as a riveting project, innovative group or something similar? Let us know by emailing Marketing@life.edu.