“It’s better to give than to receive”, a famous saying goes. Now, a recent research provided empirical evidence that this aphorism isn’t just for the receiver but for the giver as well. It showed that being compassionate is actually rewarding in and of itself.
The study was led by Harry Reis, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. They utilized 175 North American newlywed (an average of 7.17 months) husbands and wives. The participants were asked to keep a daily diary for 2 weeks to record instances in which their spouse put aside personal wishes to meet theirs and vice versa. They were also instructed to track their daily emotional states based on 14 positive and negative terms (i.e. enthusiastic, happy, calm, sad, angry, and hurt).
Results showed that both gave and received an average of .65 and .59 compassionate acts each day, with husbands noticing more of such acts than did their partners. Moreover, it showed that the emotional benefits of compassionate acts are indeed significant not only for the receiver but for the giver as well. They also found that these benefits are attained by the giver regardless of whether the recipient recognizes the act or not.
“Clearly, a recipient needs to notice a compassionate act in order to emotionally benefit from it,” says Reis. “But recognition is much less a factor for the donor.”
The benefits for the donors were even about 45 percent greater than for the recipients, with the effect being equally strong for men and women. This result agrees with Tenzin Gyatso’s saying, “Compassionate concern for others’ welfare enhances one’s own affective state,” suggesting that acting compassionately may actually be its own reward.
A simple act of sharing your time, energy, or talent can give joy to the recipient. However, put in mind that when you’re doing such act, you’re also doing yourself a favor.