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Giving Tuesday: Why Giving to Others Makes Us Feel Good

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is designated as "Giving Tuesday" – a day earmarked for doing for others or donating to charitable causes. While we might think that giving only benefits the recipient of the gift, that's not entirely the case.

Posted: Nov. 28, 2017 6:57 AM

(CLEVELAND CLINIC)--The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is designated as "Giving Tuesday" – a day earmarked for doing for others or donating to charitable causes.

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And while we might think that giving only benefits the recipient of the gift, according to Joseph Rock PsyD, of Cleveland Clinic, that's not entirely the case.

He said our brains experience joy when we are the giver too.

"Part of your brain gets activated when you do charitable giving or engage in altruistic behavior, so we really do receive biochemical, physical pleasure from doing things for other people," said Dr. Rock.

Dr. Rock said people used to think that if a person does something nice that it only counts if there isn't something in it for them.

But he said that there's always something in it for us – it doesn't mean that it's the reason that we do charitable things, but it's a nice added benefit.

Previous research has shown that the reward center of our brain actually 'lights up' when we give to others.

Dr. Rock said human beings are essentially 'wired' to give. And whenever something we do feels 'rewarding' the more likely we are to do it.

We don't have to give much to reap the rewards of giving. He said the good feelings will still happen for us, even if it's only a small gesture or just the giving of our time.

Regardless of what we're giving, according to Dr. Rock, our own view of what we're doing makes us feel better about ourselves.

If we see ourselves behaving in a way that's closer to the way we want to be, the closer to our 'ideal' selves, we feel automatically good about that.

He said isolation is scary for people, but being a part of something feels good.

"There's just something about engaging with other people in our environment that reminds us we're not alone," said Dr. Rock. "When we're helping the other people it reminds us that they're going to be there to help us too and we're part of something bigger."

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