Altruism Results in Longer Life

There is some good news for people of an altruistic bent: they’ll live longer than their more selfish counterparts. A recent study by researchers from the University of Michigan LiveScience showed that people who volunteer for completely selfless reasons enjoy greater longevity than those who volunteer but for less noble reasons, such as brownie points at work, university credits and social pressure. So, unless all those celebs really mean it when they lend their weight to all those charities, they’re not going to live any longer than the rest of us. If, however, they are genuine then we’re going to be stuck with Oprah for a very long time.It appears that less noble reasons for volunteering also include making yourself feel better. So, if you volunteer at your local animal shelter because the puppies help you relax after a hard day at work, you won’t reap the benefits. It also doesn’t count if you use volunteering to boost your self-esteem or as a platform from which to build your self-perception as a caring person.

You really, really have to want to help your fellow man or care for animals before you can even think of adding years to your life. Although, to be honest, people who are that altruistic are unlikely to think such thoughts anyway.

According to one of the researchers, Sarah Konrath, one possible reason for the extended life is a lack of stressors usually associated with volunteering; stressors like lack of time or pay.

We can take two things from this supposition:

1) Genuinely altruistic people with lots of money and time on their hands – who can afford to volunteer for absolutely noble reasons – will benefit the most.

2) Genuinely altruistic people are those who don’t care much about money in the first place. They live as well as they feel is right and give whatever they can because they believe it is right. They also believe that time is a precious gift that should be given without fear or favour. They will benefit the most and will more than likely use their extra time to do more selfless good. It’s very cyclical.

It’s not unrealistic to believe that both apply.

Despite what the cynics would have us believe, genuinely good people do exist. Despite what the state of the world tells us about humanity, genuinely good people do exist.

It’s heartening to know that the genuinely good among us will benefit from their actions, even if it is only with a few extra years.