I’ve often said that doing something positive for someone other than ourselves can evoke feelings of happiness. I’ve never really understood why this is, but I can personally attest to this realization, as I’m sure many other people can, too.
But, according to an article from The Good News Network, there might be a scientific explanation for these feel-good sensations that arise after helping someone else.
“Researchers from several Chinese universities put together (a) study in order to more closely examine why humans might act altruistically at their own expense. Devising a number of tests, the researchers were able to measure charitable actions—mostly altruistic giving—in parallel with pain sensitivity and management. Their work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), reveals some startling insights into different reasons why we may choose to give or help others at the cost of our own livelihood,” the article says.
And the most interesting part? The scientists involved in this study discovered that helping others before ourselves has the ability to relieve “‘not only acutely-induced physical pain among healthy adults, but also chronic pain among cancer patients,’” the article explains.
In case you’re not convinced, the researcher’s pilot study revealed that “individuals were reported to have experienced more pain when having blood drawn for regular lab tests than when their blood was drawn for donations to earthquake victims—even though the needle used was larger and the quantity of blood taken was greater in the donation subjects compared to the test-taking subjects,” says the article.
I suppose these findings have somewhat of a negative connotation as they suggest that helping others benefits ourselves more significantly than we thought. Either way, though, I find it fascinating that these researchers were able to conduct a study of this nature, and further, offer their insights to us.