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The Joy of Giving

Updated: Dec 29, 2019

It’s The Season to Be Merry!

Five Reasons Why “Giving” Benefits our Mind, Body & Spirit

I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

―Maya Angelou

Don’t make the Season of Giving just a year-end ritual. It is certainly much more than that! Let it come straight from your heart - so whether you buy gifts, volunteer your time, or donate money to charity this holiday season, your giving not only can brighten up someone’s day, bring laughter to some or hope to many, but it may also help you build stronger social connections and even spread generosity through your community. And don’t forget your bonus! You most certainly will find yourself GLOWING WITH JOY in the process.

Giving Promotes Happiness We are conditioned to believe that the more we HAVE the more happy we will be. So people tend to hoard, be territorial, preserve, reserve and gather stuff endlessly. But research has shown that the more you GIVE the happier you will stay. A 2008 study by Michael Norton, a Harvard Business School professor, and his colleagues found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more than spending it on themselves, although participants’ had anticipated that spending on themselves would make them happier! Happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, from the University of California, Riverside, saw similar results when she asked a test group to perform five acts of kindness each week for six weeks.

Giving Improves Your Health

We all know that eating right, physical training, outdoor exercises, and getting annual check-ups done are all great for your health goals. However, did you know that helping others in need can also boost your immunity?  According to a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University, people who volunteer or give money to charity reported having fewer colds than those that did not.  Other studies, like the Changing Lives of Older Couples (CLOC) project, have shown that those who give out emotional support have a lower risk of death than those who do not. Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine at Stony Brook University, in his book Why Good Things Happen to Good People, reports that giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with even chronic illness. Indulge Your Happy Hormones Scientists believe that generosity and helpfulness releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.” So indulge your happy hormones this season and spread good cheer by giving.

The Happiness Trifecta: Other studies claim that lending your helping hand triggers a release of oxytocin, which boosts your mood and counteracts the effects of cortisol, which is the dreaded stress hormone. It has been found that higher levels of oxytocin boosts your happy hormones - serotonin and dopamine!

Give and the World will Smile with You Giving is contagious. When we give, we don’t only make the one who received our gift happy, but our action cause a ripple of generosity through our community. It’s a social activity, which help spread smiles. ‘When you smile the whole world smiles with you’ because you are triggering their mirror neurons. A study published by James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard, shows that when one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously later, toward different people. In fact, the researchers found that altruism could spread three fold. So, according to the study, in a network even one person can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she may neither know nor have met. Both the giver and the receiver can directly impact the others brain in a positive way.  

The Cause and Effect of Happiness When you give, you’re more likely to get back: Several studies, including work by sociologists Brent Simpson and Robb Willer, have suggested that when you give to others, your generosity is likely to be rewarded by others down the line. Giving and receiving are exchanges of high vibrational energy and it promotes a sense of trust and cooperation that help strengthen human bond. Research has shown that having positive social interactions is central to good mental and physical health. Excerpt from my book: Think Design Live- Unblock Your Mind and Live Your Dreams. “...when our work creates value for others, whether directly or indirectly, the more valuable it becomes. Giving out what you most want comes back to you better than you can imagine. If you want to create value in your life, then give value. The Law of Cause and Effect states that whatever you send into the universe comes right back manifold. Ralph Waldo Emerson called this ‘The Law of Laws’. People usually start expecting from people for whom they have done something special, and spiral down into negativity when that person disappoints. The very thought of wanting a return or having expectations reinforce that your actions were not purely selfless. So do not be in any hurry to receive your goodies. Instead focus on the purity of your purpose, and the Universe will bring you the goodies, more than you can imagine, maybe not from those who you think owes you something, but from unexpected sources, in divine timing and in surprising ways."




2nd-4th JANUARY, 2020

Sources: ‘The Neuroscience of Giving’ by Eva Ritvo (MD) Psychology Today; Endorphins: Effects and how to increase levels, Medical News TodayGreater Good Magazine (online)

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