Giving. How often do you truly give from the heart? Does giving come naturally to you? Do you enjoy giving without the expectation of receiving in return? The season of giving brings up these sorts of questions every year. When we give to someone, whether it be something small like a warm meal to or large like financial help, is the one thing that can truly turn your life around.
The simple act of giving to others can actually makes us happier. An article at Psychology Today tells us about a study performed by Liz Dunn. In the study, people were given an envelope of money and where told to either spend it on themselves or on someone else before 5pm that day. The results concluded that those who spent that money on others where far more happy than those who spent it on themselves.
As humans, we are built to give. Another study in an article at Time stated that those who were told to use the money to buy something for someone else showed more interaction in parts of the brain associated with altruism and happiness, than those who were told to spend on themselves. The mere thought of what to give someone else, as opposed to yourself, makes you happier in the long run.
Another thing to remember is that giving, no matter how small or large, will have a ripple effect with those who received from you. They will be more inclined to continue the act of giving and the spread of true kindness.
Giving not only makes you feel happy, but it is also great for your overall health. If you give, you will release Oxytocin, the feel good hormone. This lowers stress, makes you feel more loving and calm, and can even help you sleep better.
Volunteering is also a great way to give and feel better, physically and emotionally, at the same time. A study at United Health Group concluded that those who volunteered felt physically healthier, had an improvement in their mood, felt less stressed, and increased their feeling of self-esteem. While eating healthy and exercise are good for physical health, giving your time to others is also an important factor in our emotional health, and for feeling fulfillment in life.
There are many ways to give. You can give financial donations to your favorite charities or spend money on others. Volunteer at your local homeless or animal shelter, and make volunteering even more fun by going with a friend. You can donate your talent by giving free classes at your local library or to a music program at your child's school. Invite someone over who may be missing family and make them a wonderful home-cooked meal.
As you can see, there are many ways we can improve our health and life by simply giving to others. During this holiday season, take the time to give a friend a hand, volunteer, or start the Pay It Forward ball rolling to give yourself the gift of true happiness.