‘Share the Love’ and live a longer, happier life

new year's fireworks‘Share the Love’ and live a longer, happier life
Last month’s ‘On Philanthropy’ column outlined the inherent drive to help one another. Now, just in time for Valentine’s Day, it’s time to dig deeper into the concepts of love and altruism and their role in our daily lives.
“Feeling the love” is a challenge for all of us these days. The pandemic has had dire consequences for our social interactions, keeping us isolated from one another. That’s led to widespread feelings of depression and anxiety, with fully a third of Americans are reporting those feelings, according to a recent US Census Bureau survey. Buffeted by unemployment, stress, and social isolation, we continue to endure some of the most challenging, lonely, stressful years our nation has faced.
It's time to reflect on how to improve our lives and the lives of others.
Research shows that generosity, compassionate acts, and altruistic emotions can counter feelings of isolation, loneliness, and desperation. There is a scientific correlation between giving behavior and kindness and overall health and longevity. 
Harvard researcher Stephen Post found that individuals who are emotionally kind and act charitably can reap improved health outcomes and even experience changes at a cellular level. Post found that benevolent behaviors and emotions can actually keep you healthier, longer.
The bottom line:  charitable giving is good for you. 
So, this Valentine’s Day, share the love: give your sweetie a squeeze, then write a check to his or her favorite nonprofit. After all, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

On Philanthropy appears monthly in the Milwaukee Business Journal for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter. This month’s column is contributed by Ellen Wilkinson, Director of Awareness & Engagement at La Causa, Inc.