The “Feel Good, Do Good Phenomenon” is a glorious, self- perpetuating cycle described in the field of psychology that occurs when the gratitude felt by the recipients of a pro-social behavior leads to the recipients engagement in other pro-social behaviors like volunteering, tutoring, and donating time and resources in turn to others. According to David G. Myers, professor of psychology at Michigan’s Hope College, “One of psychology’s most consistent findings is that when we feel happy we are more willing to help others.” For example, when someone behind you in line at the coffee shop buys your coffee for you, you will be more apt to hold the door open for someone on the way out.
In The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, co-authors His Holiness the Dali Lama and Howard Cutler, M.D. discuss the many recent studies on altruism and its positive impact on our physical and emotional health. For example, they cite a study conducted at Harvard University finding that feelings of compassion are accompanied by “an increase in immunoglobulin-A, an antibody that can help fight respiratory infections”. In another study at the University of Michigan Research Center found that “doing regular volunteer work…dramatically increased life expectancy and probably overall vitality as well”. Another several thousand person large study of regular volunteers showed that 90% of them described a volunteers “high”, characterized by “a feeling of warmth, more energy, and a kind of euphoria. They also had a distinct feeling of calmness and enhanced self worth following the activity”.