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Volunteerism – Give and Live Better

Altruism, Happiness, and Health: It’s Good to Be Good

Stephen G. Post

The vast majority of people in the European Union and the United States have more material wealth than did their parents; the percentage of these populations that is happy, however, has not increased, and depression and anxiety rates have risen dramatically (Easterbrook, 2003). The rise in depression rates is in part due to greater public and medical awareness. However, such elevated rates require serious reflection on our social environment, which has been described by one sociologist with the terms “bowling alone” and loss of “social capital” (Putnam, 2001). These terms suggest that a partial solution to the problem may lie with the restoration of prosocial altruistic emotions and behaviors. Current research does indeed show a strong association between kindly emotions, helping behavior, or both, on the one hand, and well-being, health, and longevity, on the other. This article summarizes and interprets existing research, points to future research directions, and suggests implications of such research for public health. Read More


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