Giving. We know that giving things; our time, money, gifts, will benefit other people. But really, giving to others is as beneficial to the giver as it is to the receiver… maybe even more so.
At a time where giving – in the form of physically giving Valentine’s / Galentine’s / Palentine’s presents, giving time to social occasions and so on, is the norm – we look at how giving can change your life for the better, how giving can change others’ lives for the better, and how giving can be an inspiration to all.
Giving increases happiness
Increases happiness! Isn’t that amazing! A Harvard Business School professor looked at the correlation between prosocial giving and happiness, and found that one actually increases the other; a virtuous circle of giving and happiness!
Furthermore, the same study states “functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) evidence shows that giving money to charity leads to similar brain activity in regions implicated in the experience of pleasure and reward.”
So give something, be happy. Simples.
Giving time gives you time
A study from 2012 concluded that, despite humans living longer and having endless time-saving innovations, we still feel more strapped for time than ever before. Fitting in work, social life, wellbeing, chores etc etc can seem like a daunting task.
Counterintuitively, when you give some of your time away, studies show that you feel like you have more time. How? Well, simply put, the process of giving your time to someone else, in a charitable or social way, effectively rewires the way you think about time. So you go from ‘OMG how will I ever get through this task list as I have no free time’ to ‘I surely do have free time as I’m so efficient with my time, that I’m able to give some of it away.’ That’s a *very* crude explanation, but it gives you the idea (and from experience, it is completely true).
Giving is good for society
And not just in the sense that society gets more money / time / things as a result of your generosity. In fact, the act of giving implies altruism, so, regardless of the motive behind the giving, society understands that it is an altruistic act which returns “the benefits of efficient, harmonious, and productive group living.” [Simpson and Webb, 2014]. Or as Arianna Huffington puts it; “[Giving] is the only way to counteract the excessive greed and narcissism that surrounds us.”
Remember the London Riots of 2011? Remember the #riotcleanup by hundreds of volunteers? If you ever need an example of giving being a gift to society, that is it, right there.
Giving is good for your wellbeing
Why Good Things Happen To Good People by Stephen Post (a highly recommended read, by the way), has a mountain of delightful and inspiring findings, including:
- Giving in high school predicts good physical and mental health in late adulthood, a time interval of over 50 years
- Giving significantly reduces mortality in later life
- Generous behavior reduces adolescent depression and suicide risk
- Giving quells anxiety
- Late in life, giving to others helps facilitate self-forgiveness
- Giving is so powerful that sometimes even just ‘thinking’ charitable thoughts helps us
Written by Holly