Feeling Good by Giving Back

Today there is tremendous research being done around the topic of happiness. One way this desirable state can be achieved is by giving to others.

There is a Chinese saying that goes: If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody. Happiness is found in helping others.

I learned a long time ago that giving and helping others makes you feel better about yourself. Moreover, once you experience the wonderful feeling that you get by giving, you will understand why giving can be so transformative. It can be even more powerful when you combine your passion with giving.

I recently spoke at a wonderful organization, Hope Connections. These people help those with cancer and their loved ones, and they counsel them and teach them how to deal with the emotional and physical impact of cancer.  I know I gained as much from giving the workshop as the participants who heard my presentation. When I think about my experience at Hope Connections, I get that good feeling.

According to a Time magazine 2017 article, there is scientific research supporting the saying that we’ve heard since we were kids…”It is better to give than to receive.” Through fMRI technology, research shows that giving activates the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by food and sex. By helping others we become happier, and healthier, and we live a more meaningful life.

Having said all of this giving, there can be a downside.

Giving may not always make us feel great. Giving can be depleting, and at times, we can end up feeling taken advantage of. You want to monitor your time and how you spend it.

Here are a few tips that may help:

Give where you find meaning

We tend to feel happier when we are giving to something that has meaning to us. Choose what feels right for you.

Give with self-care in mind

Adam Grant, author of Give and Take, says it best, “It is important to be ‘other-ish,’ which he defines as being willing to give more than you receive, but still keeping your own interests in sight.

Give your time

Giving does not have to be financial. Look at your schedule and choose some time to be of service to others. It can be a few hours or days a year.

Give to an organization

Make sure the organization is transparent with their goals and results. According to Harvard scientist Michael Norton, “Giving to a cause that specifies what they’re going to do with your money leads to more happiness than giving to an umbrella cause where you’re not sure where your money is going.”

Give by Role-Modeling

Teach your children and others the gift of giving. It teaches us to look outside of ourselves. There is nothing like matching your actions and words.

So whether you choose to give based on scientific reasons or from your heart, it is a win-win situation.