Receiving a gift, whether it be from a loved one or a stranger, can be a very pleasing experience. To know that someone thought about you and wanted to make you happy can change your whole day. Although receiving gifts is wonderful, what about the power of giving itself? Not only can the receiver benefit from a generous act of kindness, but there are many benefits to the giver as well.
We often hear of celebrities who spend a generous amount of money on their charities of choice, and we may know many people in our own lives that generously give their time, money, or items to those in need or those they love. In this blog we discuss the different types of giving, the benefits to those involved in the act of kindness, and the overall power of giving.
TYPES OF GIVING
When we think of the traditional act of giving, the first thing that may come to mind is a physical gift. Although this is a great way to give to another individual or group, it is not the only way to induce happiness in others. You can endow your time, knowledge, talents, encouragement, acknowledgment, thoughts, compliments, kindness, smiles, love, and money. The list is really endless when it comes to offerings for others. In fact, the power of giving is all around us. A complete stranger may have purchased your morning coffee, your coworker may have taken on one of your tasks so that you could stay on track, or your teacher may have pulled you aside to give you some words of wisdom regarding your studies. The smallest of gestures can go a long way for both the giver and the receiver.
If you are thinking about ways in which you can give back more to those around you, take some time to think of how you can spread a bit of happiness to those who are in your life and those who you may not even know. If you are not able to spend money, you could spend some of your time volunteering at a non-profit. If money is not an issue, you could purchase some small items as gifts for your close friends. If you enjoy planning, you could arrange a date or event for your partner. There doesn’t have to be a reason to give to others. Why would we go through so much effort to provide an act of kindness to someone else? Other than knowing how happy it may make a person or group, there are numerous psychological benefits to the act of giving.
“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.
BENEFITS OF GIVING
Receiving gifts is wonderful, but what benefits can giving provide us? We may ask ourselves “Why am I going through the effort of giving?”. A 2008 study conducted by researchers from Harvard and the University of British Columbia found that spending money on others leads to lasting improvements in people’s overall happiness. The findings showed that those who reported spending more on others also reported a greater level of happiness, while the amount that they spent on themselves had no impact.
Altruism – unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others. (Merriam-Webster)
The power of giving can lead to greater self-esteem and satisfaction with life. Individuals who give may lower their risk of depression and feel more accomplished. When we give, we become more compassionate and collaborative in society. There is nothing wrong with giving to others to also make ourselves feel great! Studies have shown that gift-giving behaviors activates serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin – the feel good chemicals in our brains.
If you are still thinking about ways in which you can give back to society, think of your own life experiences. Whether one is experiencing substance use disorder or dealing with a debilitating disease, others can connect more deeply with someone who has been through similar situations. Perhaps becoming a mentor or volunteering your time at a non-profit is your flavour of giving. Not only will you feel great about helping others, but these individuals may in turn seek to continue the act of goodwill and pay it forward with some of their time and experience.
We may not have super powers but that doesn’t mean we can’t be a superhero to someone. Giving is a power that anyone can wield and all parties involved benefit from the experience. Whether you have decided to surprise your mom with some flowers or volunteer to babysit your niece for the afternoon – there are many ways we can provide gifts to others. If you would like to discuss the power of giving with our team or talk to a professional for more information, please contact us HERE.