I met two people in the last week that got me thinking.
The first was a middle-aged woman who was in front of me in line at the grocery store. She had brown hair cut in a bob, and was wearing a puffy winter coat. She noticed I had only a couple things in my hands, whereas she had a full basket.
She kindly told me to go ahead of her, assuring me she had plenty of time. She smiled and her eyes sparkled as she gestured for me to pass her. I took her up on her offer and enjoyed a warm feeling in my heart for at least an hour after that encounter.
The second person was a younger woman standing in front of me at the bank. She had a slim figure and long, beautiful blonde hair that was curled a little on the ends. I was admiring her hair when she turned her profile to me. She was on her cell phone, and though she was talking quietly, her tone was low and her words clipped. After a moment she touched the screen and tucked the phone back in her purse. She sighed heavily and rubbed her temple. “Why does it have to take so long?” she said, to no one in particular.
I’d like you to guess which woman appeared more beautiful to me.
No matter your physical features, if you’re generous to others, you naturally appear more attractive. I’m sure you’ve experienced this. When someone is kind, they seem to be surrounded by light, and they give off a warmth that you can carry with you long after you’re no longer in their presence.
I love makeup and skin care and I’m definitely obsessive about my hair, but I also want to be beautiful through my actions every day. I’ve learned that being generous is one of the best ways I can allow my inner beauty to show through.
Generosity Lowers Your Blood Pressure
That blonde woman at the bank had high blood pressure, I’m almost sure of it. You could see the blood pulsing at her neck. She was stressed out.
An act of generosity can lower your blood pressure and help you appear more relaxed and self-assured. Researchers discovered in 2016 that the more money people spent on others, the lower their blood pressure was two years later. An earlier study also found that those who volunteered at least four hours a week were less likely to develop high blood pressure.
Generosity Reduces Stress
You know that you don’t look your best when you’re stressed out. A relaxed face that smiles easily is much more likely to be considered beautiful.
Life is stressful, though, and we can’t always escape feeling tense and anxious. Choosing to be generous in the moment may be just what you need to help you relax and appear more attractive. The opposite choice is definitely the wrong one. Studies have found that being stingy actually increases stress. Helping others, on the other hand, is associated with reducing stress and boosting happiness.
Generosity Leads to More Success
The more success you experience, the more confident you become, and a confident person is always more attractive than an insecure person. Turns out that being generous could help you achieve more success down the road.
A study out of the University of Pennsylvania, for example, reported that people who cooperated with each other and even allowed opponents the higher payoff in some instances found greater success than those who were more selfish during the experiment.
Helping others at work also tends to make people happier. Researchers found that people in their mid-30s who rated helping others in their work as important said they were happier in their life when surveyed almost 30 years later.
Generosity Puts You in a Better Mood
If you’re feeling grouchy on any particular day, you’re not going to look very pretty. You can fix that in five minutes by doing something generous. That’s because generosity improves mood, and boosts mental health.
A review of 40 studies found that volunteering, for example, was linked with decreased risk of depression. When we are generous with other people, we tend to enjoy better relationships, which helps us in turn to feel better mentally and emotionally.
There was another neat study out of Great Britain that demonstrated how just small acts of kindness can make you feel more satisfied in your own life. One group of people was told to perform a daily act of kindness for the next 10 days. Another group was told to do something new each day, and a third group received no instructions.
Those who practiced kindness and engaged in novel acts both experienced a significant boost in happiness (the third group didn’t get any happier). A second related study found that people felt happier when they remembered getting something for someone else than they did when they remembered getting something for themselves.
Generosity Creates a “Giver’s Glow”
We all want radiant skin these days. Being generous may be the best way to get it. Studies have discovered that giving boosts levels of happiness chemicals in the brain, including dopamine and endorphins that give you that euphoric feeling. Even thinking about giving can start this process.
Researchers have called this effect the “giver’s glow,” since it creates an all-over good feeling that actually shows on your face. That’s true beauty from within!
How to Practice Your Generosity Today
To enjoy the beauty benefits of generosity today, try these simple tricks:
- Leave a note: Think about those people who work tirelessly in your life. Those who deliver your mail, cut your hair, keep you on track, or make your day easier deserve a little pat on the back. A simple sticky note somewhere they will see it can do a lot to lift their spirits.
- Send a handwritten note: It’s easy to send an email, but you can make it more personal and meaningful if you drop a note in the mailbox. Let someone know how much you appreciate their help and support in your life.
- Anonymously give to someone in need: This could be someone in your neighborhood, in the office, or in your other social circles. Send an anonymous care package, drop a bit of money in the mail, or take care of one of their bills.
- Give someone a sincere compliment: Take a moment to really observe someone, then give them a unique and authentic compliment. People can tell when you’re being sincere.
- Get creative: If you’re a crafty person, or if you like to cook or bake, put your talents to work for someone else. Take a batch of cookies to the neighbors, knit some scarves for some of the residents of a nursing home, or use your talents in another generous way.
- Be positive online: There are a lot of negative comments on the Internet. Take a moment to leave a positive review, comment, or other contribution in cyber space. Or feature one of your friends in a Facebook post.
- Offer to help: If you pay attention, you’ll see many people throughout the day that need a little help. Offer to grab coffee, run an errand, carry something, or otherwise pitch in where needed.
Please share your ideas for being generous today!
SourcesWhillans AV, et al., “Is spending money on others good for your heart?” Health Psychol., June 2016; 35(6):574-83, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26867038.Sneed, Rodiescia S., Cohen Sheldon, “A prospective study of volunteerism and hypertension risk in older adults,” Psychology and Aging, June 2013;28(2):578-586, http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/pag/28/2/578/.Uwe Dulleck, et al., “Heartbeat and Economic Decisions: Observing Mental Stress among Proposers and Responders in the Ultimatum Bargaining Game,” PLoS One, September 23, 2014, http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0108218.Katherine Unger Baillie, “Penn study finds generosity pays,” University of Pennsylvania, September 12, 2013, https://penncurrent.upenn.edu/2013-09-12/latest-news/penn-study-finds-generosity-pays/.“Virtue rewarded: Helping others at work makes people happier,” University of Wisconsin-Madison, July 29, 2013, http://news.wisc.edu/virtue-rewarded-helping-others-at-work-makes-people-happier/.Alex Dixon, “Kindness Makes You Happy…and Happiness Makes You Kind,” Greater Good Science Center: University of California, Berkeley, September 6, 2011, http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/kindness_makes_you_happy_and_happiness_makes_you_kind.Elizabeth Renter, “What Generosity Does to Your Brain and Life Expectancy,” US News, May 1, 2015, http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/05/01/what-generosity-does-to-your-brain-and-life-expectancy.