Does Kindness Lead to Happiness?

Does Kindness Lead to Happiness?

Does kindness lead to happiness? Voluntary activities and subjective well-being….

The act of volunteering makes people happy, and the more unhappy they are to start with, the bigger the boost to their feelings of wellbeing when they put their hand up to help in their communities, a study has found.

Professor Lisa Magnani, head of Macquarie’s Department of Economics and co-author of the study, says the reason for the uptick in happiness comes from the frequent socialisation, and the feeling of being part of both a community generally and a neighbourhood in particular, that volunteering brings.

Her paper, Does kindness lead to happiness? Voluntary activities and subjective well-being, a collaboration with Rong Zhu of Flinders University’s College of Business, Government and Law, was published in the December issue of the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics.

Magnani found from the data that volunteers, compared with non-volunteers, are older and more likely to be female. As well as having better self-assessed health, they are less likely to have a long-term health condition.

The results were unequivocal: volunteering has a clear and positive impact on how well people feel, particularly among those who are unhappy.

As well, the study found volunteering could offset 16 to 30 per cent of wellbeing losses from having a long-term health condition.

However, the impact on wellbeing will be gone after a year if people haven’t sustained their volunteering, so “it allows you to experience something if you do it, rather than if you simply remember that you have done it in the past”, Magnani says.

The paper sheds light on what aspects of volunteering – most notably, the social connection – make it most attractive for people, and concludes that policymakers can publicise the positive impacts on wellbeing to encourage volunteering, as well as design policies that make sure volunteering activities maintain the social aspects that make people happy.

OWNQ Ed:  This study shows some of the benefits our OWNQ members receive when they take active roles helping with running of their Branches and providing the activities.  Well done, all those helpers!  And it is good to know that your contribution is making you healthier.

Source:  adapted from “Volunteering and Happiness” featured in the Volunteering Queensland Dec 2018 newsletter referring to an article in “The Lighthouse” (Macquarie University) regarding a paper titled “Does Kindness lead to happiness? Voluntary activities and subjective wellbeing” by Professor Lisa Magnani, Macquarie University, and Rong Zhu of Flinders University College of Business, Government and Law,  published in the Dec issue of the Journal of Behavioural and Experimental Economics.