Why doing more "good" in 2018 will make you feel better

Feeling good

At first glance, philanthropy and positive psychology appear to have very little in common. Philanthropy is a term generally associated with giving money to charities, doing good in the community, and creating social value.

Positive psychology usually conjures up images of an academic approach to emotional strengths and virtues that enable people to thrive.

But there is indeed a connection. After all, philanthropy, according to the classic dictionary definition, means a “love of humanity” in the sense of caring, nourishing, developing, and enhancing “what it is to be human” on both the benefactors’ and beneficiaries’ parts. The connection is right there.

Here are three reasons this connection should make you feel better about amping up your community involvement in 2018, both at home and in the workplace.

  1. Social impact activities are good for your health.

The benefits of philanthropy aren’t limited to your mood. After scouring websites, journals, blogs, articles, and more, our team of researchers uncovered dozens of studies linking philanthropic behavior and improved physical health. Research suggests activities such as volunteering and giving can lead to a longer life, lower blood pressure, and better pain management.

If you're skeptical, try this experiment:

Ask your friends to describe their favorite charities and community activities, and then watch their body language closely as they talk. If your friends are like the people in our research study, you will see them visibly relax. You may see them become more upbeat in their words and tone. They may lean in a bit as they share their stories. And they may keep talking longer than you expect. What's happening? Your friends are proud, confident, and emboldened about the role of social impact in their well-rounded, healthy lives. They are happy as they talk about it. They actually feel better.

2. The range of social impact activities is expanding, giving you more choices for "doing good" than ever before.

Giving to charities is not the only philanthropic activity going on in the lives of Americans.

Our team conducted a five-year research study--published last year in our book, Do Good, Feel Better--to discover the components of today’s culture of philanthropy and how it impacts engagement in organizations, companies, and donor groups. Today’s culture of philanthropy embraces the full range of social impact behaviors: Giving to charities, volunteering, serving on nonprofit boards of directors, celebrating at community events, recycling and respecting a sustainable environment, marketing a favorite cause, donating items of food and clothing, purchasing products that support a cause, sharing with family and friends in need, and caring about health and wellness. These activities are called the “10 Ways to Do Good.”

Certainly this expansion of the “doing good” footprint in America has contributed to the continued enthusiasm for dollars flowing into favorite causes, whether those causes are supported through philanthropic institutions, financial institutions, or through workplace giving programs. It's also created a whole new paradigm for a "social impact lifestyle" where all generations thrive on the integration of work, life, community, and wellness.

3. Social impact activities are good for your career and business.

Social impact has become a key component in today's workplace. Today’s market leaders view social impact behavior as a catalyst for connecting human resources with marketing, building emotional loyalty with employees and consumers and, in turn, boosting employer brand and business results.

The contemporary imperative for workplace performance is not only about the head, but also about the heart. Executives need to get inside employees' emotions and mindsets to understand how employees see themselves in their lives, work, and community. This type of culture-building, in turn, gives employers the tools to tweak employee engagement programs so they are embraced by employees and effective to drive results.

Our research for Do Good, Feel Better uncovered the following statistics:

Cheers to your health, wealth, and happiness in 2018, thanks to a work-life-community-wellness mindset!