7 Benefits of Giving During the Christmas Season
Humans Are Hard-Wired for Generosity
The winter holidays are a season of gift-giving in many places around the globe. Hanukkah, Christmas, the Chinese New Year, and a whole host of other holiday occasions are celebrated during this period. It seems to be a season during which people are more eager than usual to give to family, friends, colleagues, well-wishers, and even strangers. Regardless of the recipient, giving is an act of kindness whose benefits are greater than most of us recognize.
Medical technology company Abbott asked thousands of people across the world about the number one thing that provides them with the most satisfaction and fulfillment. Giving was consistently one of the top three answers. This finding is significant—it's almost as if we are hard-wired to be generous. If you take a look at scientific research about generosity, it quickly becomes very clear that we get real mental and physical benefits from giving to others. I guess it really is better to give than to receive!
Why Do People Give?
- People give when they know that their donations are going to make a difference in the lives of other people.
- People give to support causes they find important like environmental preservation, health research, or social equality.
- Some people give to support the fight against a particular deadly disease like cancer, HIV, or Tuberculosis.
- Some people give because it makes them feel good, happy, and satisfied.
- Some people even give to reduce their income tax burden while helping others.
As you can see, there are a number of reasons why people might donate their time, money, or possessions. No matter the reason, it’s important to remember that the act of giving helps both ourselves and other human beings. Now that we know what motivates us to give, let's look into the actual benefits of generosity.
7 Benefits of Generosity for the Giver
- It activates the reward center in your brain.
- It improves life satisfaction.
- It makes you happy.
- It's contagious.
- It improves your health
- It reduces stress.
- It increases self-esteem.
1. It Activates the Reward Center in Your Brain
A study conducted by a U.S. university professor demonstrated that giving creates a response in the brain similar to that produced by psychotropic drugs and other pleasurable stimuli. In other words, giving helps release chemical hormones like endorphins and dopamine, both of which give a person a pleasurable sense of reward and wellbeing. Giving feels great in the deepest part of your being, so why not do it more regularly?
2. It Improves Life Satisfaction
Giving has also been linked to the release of oxytocin, a hormone that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection to others. Some think that this is why giving also promotes gratitude in the giver. Whatever the neurological mechanisms may be, data has shown that individuals who have recently donated time, money, or gifts report higher life satisfaction than those who haven't. The more generous you are, the more you'll enjoy your own life, so get out there and give!
3. It Makes You Happy
In another study undertaken in the US, it was determined that people who are habitual givers report more joy, happiness, and contentment in life than those who are not. There is a general feeling of wellbeing and satisfaction generated by the simple act of giving. It literally helps make you happy!
4. It's Contagious
Giving inspires others to do likewise. A chain reaction starting with one person can spread generosity to no end. The act of giving is remarkably contagious. Start giving, and very soon you just might see your friends and family being more generous as well. There is great satisfaction in knowing that your acts of kindness are spreading to others who might be inspired to do the same. You never know just how far the impact of a single gift or kind act could reach. Let's light the fuse of generosity!
5. It Improves Your Health
A number of health benefits have been correlated with generosity and altruism. Here are just a few:
- The act of giving can help naturally reduce high blood pressure.
- Giving can help reduce certain symptoms of depression and anxiety, including loneliness and isolation.
- Giving can help naturally boost the immune system to ward off sickness and disease.
- Generosity has been associated with a longer lifespan. Perhaps giving could add weeks, months, or even years to our lives!
6. It Reduces Stress
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Tennessee found that habitual givers experience lower rates of stress and lower blood pressure compared to those who do not give. It turns out giving gifts doesn't just make you happy—it also reduces your stress levels and helps ease tension in your life. Who knew habitual generosity could help you unwind and stay healthy?
7. It Increases Self-Esteem
Statistically, givers enjoy a higher level of satisfaction and contentment in life, a more positive self-image, and higher self-esteem than those who do not give. Generous individuals feel better about themselves, and others tend to view them in a more positive light as well. Most of us have heard about impactful philanthropists like Bill Gates, Aziz Premji, and Sir David Sassoon. Though they were all successful in business and trade, the main reason that these individuals are revered is their generosity. Each has donated vast amounts of time, money, and resources to charities, aid organizations, environmental projects, and educational initiatives.
Will You Spread Generosity This Holiday Season?
Unlike impulsively spending, impulsively giving can bring wonderful blessings to your mind and body. If you’re not sure how to start with cash, get your feet wet by giving away some items around your home that you no longer need, like toys, clothes, canned food, furniture, or electronics. Then, when you’re in a position to give financially, take that step — you’ll not only be helping those you give to, you’ll be nurturing your own wellbeing too.
If you are not sure what and how to give, here are some suggestions:
- Donate a gift to a children’s charity.
- Donate canned food to a local food bank or a non-profit.
- Volunteer your services at meal kitchen, food bank, or shelter.
- Volunteer at a senior citizen center or assisted living facility.
- Volunteer at the humane society or an animal rescue organization.
Have you experienced the manifold benefits of giving in your own life? If not, this holiday season is the best time to start. Start by giving whatever you can—your time, services, materials, or money—and watch how it improves your health, happiness, and general wellbeing. Merry Christmas and happy giving!
What do you most like to give?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Nitin Khaire