Yale Study Says You're More Generous When You Feel Good

study on human generosity and cooperation and how they're affected by a person's emotional state showed that those with positive emotions were more likely to make decisions that benefited a group rather than making a self-serving choice.

The study, conducted by Yale University researchers, involved groups of subjects who played games that involved decisions about how to distribute money. It was better for individuals to keep as much money as possible for themselves, but the whole group benefited when everyone in it chose to work cooperatively. Participants' emotional states were measured with an assessment tool called the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count.

People identified by the test has having positive emotions were more likely to have acted cooperatively. Those who were shown to be inhibited tended to act in their own self-interest rather than that of the group.

A Positive Attitude Has Many Benefits

Positive emotions are not just beneficial for groups. They also provide you with beneficial physical effects. For example, a study of selected faculty and staff members at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill showed that those who practiced loving-kindness meditation had better vagal tone, an indicator of greater cardiovascular health. They also felt closer to other people and more socially connected.

Optimism is typically linked with happiness, and it also provides a number of health benefits. For example, researchers found that optimistic people were twice as likely to have ideal cardiovascular health. They also had better total cholesterol and blood sugar levels and healthier body mass index readings than their pessimistic counterparts and were more likely to exercise and less likely to smoke. For those who already have heart problems, a Danish study showed that patients with a positive attitude had a 42 percent lower death rate than those with negative outlooks.

You can do a quick self-assessment to see if you're happy with your life and have an optimistic outlook by taking this test on WebPsychology.