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Charity Is Good


That charity is good has been known since ancient times. When you give, it clears away the blocks for receiving.

It is also good for the giver because it gives him a sense of well being. As per the saying – As you sow, so you reap – whatever you give out, comes back to you multiplied. Thus it is said that if you desire more money, then give away some first. So, charity is good from a business point also.

There’s a popular song from the 1966 Hindi film ‘Dus Lakh’ (One Million), which when translated into English, goes something like this:

If you pay heed to the needs of the poor,

The Lord will pay heed to your needs;

If you give away a dollar,

He will give you a million.

However, now researchers say that charity activates the same pleasure centers in our brain that food and sex activate.

A study conducted in 2007 says that people felt better when they did charity. They felt good even when the contribution was mandatory, like in tax. In fact, they felt even better when they made a donation voluntarily.

Ulrich Mayr, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon, who conducted the study which appeared in the journal Science said that “in an ideal world you could have a tax situation where you could be a satisfied taxpayer.”

In the study, Mayr and two economists gave 19 women volunteers $100 each and then tracked their brain activity in a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner.

The women were shown their money automatically being transferred from their account to a local food bank.

When the money reached the food bank account, it activated portions of the brain -- the caudate nucleus and the nucleus accumbens -- known for pleasure. The effect was even greater when the people got to choose to give the money away.

The researcher said that these pleasure areas are for really basic needs, like food, sex, sweets, shelter and social connection. It’s the area that tells the brain what is good for us and also what is good for others.

Ulrich and colleagues were hoping to find out whether there was something in the act of giving itself -- and not just the social and egotistical reward of being a philanthropist -- that offers satisfaction.

He said, "the fact that we find pleasurable activity in those mandatory tax-like situations strongly suggests the existence of pure altruism."

John D. Rockefeller was, in his time, the richest man in the world. In 1924 he wrote – in the beginning of getting money, way back in my childhood, I began giving it away and continued increasing the gifts as the income increased.

Rockefeller is regarded as the world’s first billionaire. It is important to note that he first gave away and then started to make money.

Is there any doubt now that charity is good?

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