When it comes to your happiness, the old adage that it is better to give than receive, really is true.
It is something that has always provided a huge happiness boost in my life. So much so, that my family always insists any birthday or holiday money I receive from them has to be spent on ME. It’s kind of a running joke for us, but I am telling you, there really IS something to giving being the better gift.
Did you know that studies have shown the act of being generous activates pleasure centers in the brain, similar to sex, dessert, and money? It activates those areas AS MUCH for those who give a gift as for those who receive a gift. And one study found that money spent on others increases our well-being MORE than spending it on ourselves. Researchers observed something similar in children as small as 2 who engaged in sharing!
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home where generosity was woven into the fabric of everyday life. Some of my earliest memories include me visiting the nursing home or house-bound individuals in our community with my parents. My mother was always either delivering a meal or hosting people for dinner. And, even though my parents have worked very hard for everything they have, they won’t sell things like clothes or furniture, but instead give them to people who need them. I am so inspired when I think of my parents!
I only recently discovered the scientific data that backs the idea of generosity being good for us. Yet, I have experienced this powerful truth in my life for many years, thanks to my awesome parents, and it is so incredibly wonderful that I can’t keep it to myself. There really is nothing like it. Living a life of generosity, focused on the needs of others, is not just a beautiful way to live, it is a healthy way to live. It is the way we are MEANT to live. And when we do, our life is all the better for it.
Are you ready for a boost in your happiness? Here are some ways that you can put generosity into practice in your own life! (Being generous doesn’t necessarily require spending money)
- Deliver a meal to a sick friend or neighbor
- Help shovel snow for an elderly neighbor
- Offer to feed or watch a pet for free for a friend or neighbor when they are away
- Surprise people with a treat on a holiday
- Buy something special for a family in need
- Allow a stranger to pass ahead in the grocery line
- Visit a nursing home or retirement center and spend time with the residents (not just at Christmas!)
- Take part in an organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters
- Offer to babysit for a single mother for free
- Pick up and deliver groceries to a family who is struggling
- Deliver flowers to a single friend
I should also mention there is something extra special to doing a generous deed anonymously!
What other ideas for being generous do you have? Please share them and we will see how many we can come up with!
P.S. My family is feeling incredibly grateful today! My dad came through his surgery well. He had a partial colectomy for colon cancer.
On a lesser note, I updated our about page, in case you are curious or bored ;).