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Can Giving Back Improve Your Health?

Can Giving Back Improve Your Health?

Meet Will Whitt. Will is an amazing guy.  We all have a thing or two to learn from him. That’s because the things that Will does on a regular basis are some of the most overlooked techniques to significantly feel better and improve your overall health.

Each week you can find Will volunteering his time, donating clothes, or just sitting down to a quick meal with a homeless person simply to give them some company. It’s altruism to the fullest. 


Today I had the pleasure of meeting Arnold. Fortunately, I was able to take him to lunch and listen to his story. Arnold was born and raised in Harlem, NY. drugs led him to jail and then eventually onto the streets and homeless. He is currently in the process of turning his life around and he has become a staple in his bronx neighborhood for the little deeds he's able to do on a daily basis for the elderly. Make sure you PAY IT FORWARD!! Stay tuned for part 2 I have a HUGE surprise for him in the coming days! #FeelGood #payitforward #spreadloveitsthehumanway #giveback #beablessingtoothers #feedthehomeless #homeless #nyc #bronx #homelessnothopeless #homelessnessawareness #helpothers #inspireothers #inspiration #votd #loves_nyc #newyork #givingback

A video posted by William Shamar Whitt (@shamarwhitt) on


It’s something that very few of us do. But being charitable is something you'll want to take a closer look at. Sure, it’s fantastic to give back to your community or to others, but let’s look at the real science that outlines what’s in it for you to act more like Will. 

GIVING SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASES YOUR HAPPINESS

In a survey of over 600 people, research showed that spending money on others led to greater happiness. In comparison, spending money on yourself did not.  It didn’t matter what income level you were either. Even those with little money reported greater happiness.

So, can money buy happiness? The answer is yes, if you spend the money on someone else.

Another study revealed that giving others as little as $5 can also lead to dramatically increased happiness for you. In their article, "Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness," Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and two colleagues from the University of British Columbia, Elizabeth Dunn and Lara Aknin said, 

"Our findings suggest that very minor alterations in spending allocations—as little as $5 in our final study—may be sufficient to produce non-trivial gains in happiness on a given day."



But what’s happiness have to do with your actual health? Turns out, a lot.

People with high levels of positive emotion can physically become healthier over the course time. And we’re talking real health benefits here. Another study suggested that positivity and happiness even relieves pain. Women with arthritis and chronic pain rated themselves on positive emotions like interest, enthusiasm, and inspiration over time. Those with higher ratings overall were less likely to experience increases in pain.

GIVING IS GOOD FOR YOUR OVERALL HEALTH 

Put simply, research links generosity to better physical health. Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine, even showed that giving to others increased health benefits in people with chronic illness, including HIV and multiple sclerosis.

In the Journal of Economic Psychology, an associate professor of economics at the University at Albany-SUNY also found that donating to charity actually improves a giver’s physical health.  

"I also find a positive relationship between charitable giving and self-reported health status. As the amount of the donation increases, health status improves."

Remember how giving increased happiness and overall positive emotions? In another experiment, hundreds of people were exposed to the common cold. Before they were exposed, researchers called several times over two weeks. They asked how much they had experienced nine positive emotions—like feeling energetic, pleased, and calm. After 5 days in quarantine, the people with the most positive emotions were found less likely to develop a cold.


This gentleman unfortunately is homeless & uses this area to collect money for food and shelter. He's been in this area for months "trying to survive" as he puts it. He told me he has a nickname "you again" from the daily commuters. Needless to say he isnt treated with any dignity or respect. Today i had the time and ability to speak with him to figure out a way I could help him out and make his day better if only for a moment. He needed food and clothes, so we provided that for him and had a little chat about sports and old school athletes. He hadn't had this type of quality conversation in months since he's been on the streets. Everyone who reads this, if you can take the time out of your day to pay it forward to someone who needs it, then my job is one step closer to being done. It doesnt have to be food, clothes, or money.... it could be as simple as words of encouragement or a smile. Thank God for our blessings and lets be a blessing to others. #FeelGoodTuesday #TeamShamar #SpreadLoveItsTheHumanWay #SpreadLove #FeelGood #GiveBack #humanity #Waterbury #CT #Connecticut #FeedTheHomeless #helpthehomeless #wtnh8 #wtnhbacktoschool #PAYITFORWARD #tuesday #grateful #humble #summer16 @wtnh8 @thefeelgoodlab_will @thefeelgoodlab @stephsimoni @laurahutch8 @performancehealthnyc @937thebeat @garyvee

A video posted by William Shamar Whitt (@shamarwhitt) on


The equation is simple. Give back to feel better emotionally. Feel better emotionally to feel better physically.

GIVING CAN PROLONG YOUR LIFE

Doug Oman of the University of California, Berkeley, found that elderly people who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than were non-volunteers. Let us repeat that, 44 percent.


I want everyone to meet Greg. Greg is a homeless man living in Harlem New York and he stays and lower Manhattan in order to panhandle for money to eat. As I walked by Greg he asked me for money for food. Before me I watch at least 10 people look at him as if he were an animal. So I took Greg to lunch in a nice restaurant in Manhattan and treated him like the human that he deserves to be treated. We are all human and our living situation and our bank accounts don't make us any different from one another. We always talk about how our homeless commit crimes but we don't look at it from their point of view with their backs against the wall what do you expect them to do? So why not give them a better option and show them we care. This post isn't for likes, I do this daily, its with the hope that everyone who sees it will pay it forward! #giveback #spreadlove #humanity #weareallcreatedequal #equality #poverty #payitforward #feedthehomeless #spreadloveitsthehumanway @wtnh8

A photo posted by William Shamar Whitt (@shamarwhitt) on


And adults over age 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers. Blood pressure is important because it is typically linked to heart disease, stroke, and premature death. 

GIVING IS CONTAGIOUS

When you give, you don’t just help the recipient of your gift. You can spur a ripple effect of generosity through the community.

When one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously later, toward different people. Researchers even found that altruism often spreads by three degrees—from person to person to person to person. 

“Each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.”

So whether you buy gifts, volunteer your time, or donate money to charity, your giving is much more than you might think. It can be one of the best things you do for your body. And better yet,  it could  jumpstart a domino effect of generosity through a community.

THE EASIEST WAYS TO GET STARTED

We get it. Putting in the time and energy to give back is not always the most convenient. It's hard to do what Will does. So, we wanted to give people some easy ways to give back in order to feel good.

That’s why we've partnered with Will (and eventually more people) to help him do more great things. Each week, Will will use a portion of our profits to simply brighten someone's day. Or, give them something they really need. You can follow along on social media to see it all unfold. 

Next, we created our Feel Good line of apparel.

Feel Good Lab Apparel

The idea is simple. You get awesome quality clothing at a great price and 100% of the profit goes to a charity or non-profit that helps people feel good. We make zero money. We just hope you wear it, feel good knowing you helped, and maybe even spread the word in the process.