Turns out that being nice to other people isn't just good for the recipients of your kindness. According to the latest research, people who are generous and altruistic reap a host of benefits from their behavior, from lower stress levels to happier relationships to reduced risk of heart disease. As Stephen Post says in this Big Think interview, "in general it’s good to be good and science says it’s so." Post's research shows a significant upside to volunteerism and other generous behaviors:
People developed deeper friendships, more meaningful relationships. They had a sense of gratification. They expressed greater resiliency when they experienced problems and tough times in life. So in my view if you could take those kinds of self-reported benefits and put them in a pill, market them at the drugstore, you’d be a billionaire overnight. But the thing is that you don’t really have to do that because if people simply get in touch with that evolved aspect of their being, they tend to benefit from it.
So, does this turn the old adage on its head? Do nice guys actually finish first? Maybe not always, but it looks like they're a lot happier -- and may well live longer -- than more selfish individuals.