The coming holiday season is a stressful one for most families. It’s the end of the year and maybe financially it was hard to keep going. As you know the feeling of joy that giving generates is priceless. Feeling good in your heart that you made a small difference in someone’s day is a wonderful feeling.
As life takes us on a journey of discovery, our heart is our guide. Have you ever come across a situation of someone needing help? Did you look the other way? Or did you reach out and helped?
There are many ways to give: Examples are lending an ear, giving counsel, pointing the person to a place they can receive help, connecting people, giving money, doing service, helping with shopping, finding gifts to support, sending a basket of fruit and goodies to a family with children, giving a grocery gift voucher, give someone a lift or pick up something for them.
You can also treat a friend to a mani-pedi, hair do, lunch, or massage. The list is endless.
Giving has many forms and the best thing is to be attentive to what the person is saying about their needs that are not being met, and how best you can fill in the gap.
All religious/non-religious and community groups stress the importance of giving and sharing.
Giving for the sake of giving and sharing the love. This is what gives us meaning and compassion in our lives…when we can make a difference, no matter how small in someone’s life. But also, did you know that giving is actually good for you and your health?
Here are some of the ways that giving is good for you and your community.
- Giving makes us feel happy.
A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more that spending it on themselves.
These good feelings are reflected in our biology. In a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect.
- Giving is good for our health.
A wide range of research has linked different forms of generosity to better health, even among the sick and elderly.
Researchers suggest that one reason giving may improve physical health and longevity is that it helps decrease stress, which is associated with a variety of health problems
- Giving promotes cooperation and social connection.
When you give, you’re more likely to get back: Several studies, have suggested that when you give to others, your generosity is likely to be rewarded by others down the line—sometimes by the person you gave to, sometimes by someone else.
These exchanges promote a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to others—and research has shown that having positive social interactions is central to good mental and physical health.
- Giving evokes gratitude.
Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of a gift, that gift can elicit feelings of gratitude—it can be a way of expressing gratitude or instilling gratitude in the recipient. And research has found that gratitude is integral to happiness, health, and social bonds.
When you express your gratitude in words or actions, you not only boost your own positivity but [other people’s] as well.
- Giving is contagious.
When we give, we don’t only help the immediate recipient of our gift. We also spur a ripple effect of generosity through our community.
Giving has also been linked to the release of oxytocin, a hormone (also released during sex and breast feeding) that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection to others.
So whether you buy gifts, volunteer your time, or donate money to charity this holiday season, your giving is much more than just a year-end chore. It may help you build stronger social connections and even jumpstart a cascade of generosity through your community. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself benefiting from a big dose of happiness in the process.
Make this beautiful time of giving a part of your life practice. Allocate every year a budget, or activity that you are able to do to make a difference and show you care.
Lots of Blessings
Founder: Dorothea Essences & Healing