We’re told from an early age that what we give, we get back, but it seems giving for nothing in return is best. Recent studies conducted by Campbell-Meiklejohn and Ph.D. student Jo Cutler have shown that when we give out of genuine kindness (when we give for nothing in return), rather than strategic kindness (when there is an advantage to be gained for us) our brains reward network is greatly stimulated from real kindness.
Researchers from the University of Sussex conducted a major analysis of 36 existing studies showing the fMRI brain scans of 1,150 people making altruistic (genuine giving for nothing in return) decisions.
It’s certainly true that we’re generally moved more by altruistic kindness, when that person helps us and has nothing to gain from helping us. This new research sheds light on why we may actually get something from giving for nothing in return, it seems our brains are awash with endorphins, when we do this.
For the first time we can see that the kind person who went out of their way to help, does in fact get something, even if their awareness of what they got was a mystery until now.
There’s another reason why selfless acts can be rewarding, altruistic people and acts, make us more attractive partners. I guess we’d all prefer to be in a relationship, when our partner is more likely to act out of a genuine preoccupation of giving for nothing in return.
Giving our time can often have much more impact than giving money or stuff, you can read more about giving, this was written a while ago.
I’d like pay tribute to a special group of people for whom giving for nothing in return, actually saved countless lives every day, 365 days a year, Samaritan’s volunteers, all 21,000 of them in the UK alone, then there’s thousands more across the world volunteering for Befrienders International, true examples of altruistic acts on selfless kindness.
If you need immediate support you can contact the Samaritan’s 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Paul Parkin – online counselling and coaching for life.