As covered in my earlier post on Green Comet, Pronoid, altruism is good for you. This article in Scientific American adds to the evidence. While pronoia promotes the survival of individuals, groups and species, this article concentrates on the health and longevity benefits of altruism.
The benefits of giving rather than receiving are more than just spiritual.
Most people still seem to be ignorant about the impact such other-oriented behavior can have on their own well-being. Fortunately, several researchers have already stepped in to investigate this important question …
A few weeks afterward the researchers measured the blood pressure of both groups. It turned out the blood pressure (systolic and diastolic) of those participants who had spent money on others had significantly decreased as compared with the subjects who spent the money on themselves. Moreover, the decrease in blood pressure was similar in size to the effect of starting high-frequency exercise or a healthier diet.
The article goes on to describe several studies and experiments that give results supporting the fact that helping others helps ourselves. However, it also cautions that it is not true in all cases.
Of course, even here too much of a good thing can be detrimental. If people only concentrate on the well-being of others, they can ignore their own needs.
“There’s a big difference between pleasing people and helping them.” One should choose when and how to help, instead of being pushed to assist whomever happens to ask.
So, if you are truly giving and not being coerced into it, altruism is good for you. It makes you feel better and it might even make you live longer. But if you are coerced, if you feel that you should do it or must do it, then it can be bad for you. Help whom you choose to help, not necessarily whom someone tells you you should, and you will be happier and healthier.