Tis Better to Give Than to Receive

Yeah, Yeah. Yeah. What­ev­er. Isn’t that just some­thing your mom always told you so that you would­n’t be upset when your sib­lings got bet­ter gifts than you? Well, lo and behold, maybe Mom was right!

Researchers have found that the mesolim­bic path­way is acti­vat­ed by char­i­ta­ble giv­ing. This area is one of the major path­ways where you find the neu­ro­trans­mit­ter dopamine, which is asso­ci­at­ed with the brain’s plea­sure sys­tem. Fur­ther­more, donat­ing also appears to increase the release of oxy­tocin, a hor­mone that acts as a neu­ro­trans­mit­ter and is involved in social bond­ing and build­ing trust between people.

So this hol­i­day, find a way to give back. Not only will it make you feel bet­ter, but social activ­i­ties are good stress reduc­ers too. If you and your fam­i­ly are at each oth­ers’ throats with too much togeth­er­ness, plan an activ­i­ty together.

  • Go feed the hun­gry at a local com­mu­ni­ty center
  • Walk the dogs at a local shelter
  • Vis­it the sick at a hospital
  • Clean a park or beach together

Hav­ing an activ­i­ty togeth­er will take the focus off of each oth­er and give you a rea­son to work togeth­er, bond, and enjoy your dopamine/oxytocin rush. It’s good for your brain.



  1. Damien on December 30, 2006 at 11:30

    Very cool post. Who knew that giv­ing could be such a lit­er­al rush???

  2. Hueina Su on December 30, 2006 at 5:32


    Thank you for shar­ing this with us. The Car­ni­val of Heal­ing is up at Inten­sive Care for the Nur­tur­er’s Soul.


  3. isabella mori on December 30, 2006 at 11:56

    what an inter­est­ing find­ing! thanks for bring­ing us this infor­ma­tion. coin­ci­den­tal­ly, i just heard that this year, cana­di­ans have giv­en more than any oth­er year. what a bunch of plea­sure seek­ers we are!

  4. Caroline on December 31, 2006 at 2:55

    Damien, Hueina, and Isabella -
    Glad you enjoyed the post — you’re giv­ing me my dopamine rush now!!
    Hap­py new year to all,

  5. Mark McManus on January 1, 2007 at 10:26

    Very good arti­cle Car­o­line, that’s news to me. Well found!

  6. Caroline on January 5, 2007 at 10:10

    Thanks Mark!

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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