HEALTH REPORT: The effects of giving

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - As the holidays get into full swing, we begin to see the suggestions to consider giving.
But did you know the act of giving actually has a physical effect on us?
Rhiannon Walker explores why our brains experience joy when we give.
The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is designated as 'Giving Tuesday'- a day earmarked for doing for others or donating to charitable causes, and while we might think that giving only benefits the recipient of the gift, according to Doctor Joseph Rock of Cleveland Clinic, that is not entirely the case.
He says our brain experience joy when we are the giver too.
Doctor Joseph Rock; Psychologist at Cleveland Clinic>>: "The same part of your brain gets activated when you do charitable giving or engage in altruistic behavior. So we really do get, you know, biochemical, physical pleasure from doing things for other people."
Doctor Rock says that people used to think that if you do something nice, that it only counts if there isn't something in it for you.
But he says that there is always something in it for us- it doesn't mean that it is the reason we do charitable things, but it is a nice added benefit.
Previous research has shown that the reward center of out brain actually 'lights up' when we give to others.
According to Doctor Rock, humans are essentially 'wired' to give, and whenever something we do feels 'rewarding', we are more likely to do it.
And regardless of what we are giving, he says our own view of what we are doing makes us feel better about ourselves.
If we see ourselves behaving in a way that is closer to the way we want to be, the closer to our 'ideal' selves, we feel automatically good about that.
Doctor Rock went on the say that isolation is scary for people, but being a part of something feels good.
Doctor Joseph Rock; Psychologist at Cleveland Clinic>>: "There's just something about engaging with other people in our environment that reminds us we're not alone. And while we're helping the other people it reminds us that they're going to be there to help us too and we're part of something bigger."
Doctor Rock says that we don't have to give much to reap the rewards of giving, the good feelings will still happen for us, even if it is a small gesture, or just giving our time.
For this week's Health Report, I'm Rhiannon Walker.