Giving gifts is a holiday tradition that elicits mixed reactions. Kids look forward to the gifts, some adults enjoy the shopping, while others simply don’t have the time and wouldn’t do it if they didn’t feel they had no choice. Excessive advertising can make us feel like the holidays are all about buying and more buying. But giving is a good thing. A thoughtful gift can brighten someone’s day; and it can also have great benefits for the giver. Of course giving is not just about buying gifts. You can give your time by volunteering or by visiting people who need your company, or you can give donations to a charity.
You may have heard the adage ‘It is in giving that we receive.’ The exciting news for you this holiday season is that you don’t just reap benefits from giving, you really get more than you give. And there are studies to prove it. Read on…
You’re glowing dear!
When you give, your brain secretes feel-good chemicals, creating what is known as a ‘helper’s high’. In one British study, people who practiced an act of kindness a day experienced a boost in their happiness. A study by researchers at Harvard Business School and the University of British Columbia found that participants generally felt happier when they remembered a time they had bought something for someone else than when they remembered buying something for themselves. Those who felt happy when they remembered their past giving were more likely to spend on gifts for others in future than on themselves.
A study showed that an individual’s generosity inspires those who receive it to be generous to someone else. This can have a chain reaction that benefits a whole community. Who would have thought that your little act of kindness could actually be an act of kindness to your community or even beyond! If you haven’t watched it yet, the movie Pay it Forward illustrates this concept and is a good one to watch with the kids.
Live long and prosper
Research has linked giving, whether in gifts or in volunteer time, to increased lifespan. A review of the health effects of volunteering found that regular volunteering can reduce early mortality rates by 22%, compared to the mortality rates of people who don’t participate in volunteer activities. The study also found reduced depression rates and increased sense of satisfaction among habitual volunteers. And according to Arthur Grant, author of Give and Take, successful people start off by giving, even before they achieve success.
However you choose to give this holiday season, remember these famous words that a wise lady once said: “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”