October 6, 2014
The Hidden Benefits of Being a Good Giver
Take a moment to imagine how you would feel after doing the following activities:
- Dropping $50 at a lemonade stand run by a few nice kids
- Giving a family member a framed photo you know they’ll love
- Telling a stranger how much you love their sunglasses
- Spending an hour listening to a friend going through a difficult period and offering them consolation and hope
I’m willing to bet that these scenarios–all of which involve giving to others– helped you summon positive emotional states.
We all know how great it feels to give and yet, to one degree or another, we also identify with the view of the ego self that sharing our time, energy and resources with others will only limit our ability to prosper, and ultimately be happy.
So does giving have any tangible benefits? Absolutely. Scientific studies have demonstrated a number of benefits associated with generosity, including anxiety reduction, improvement in professional relationships, and even extending lifespan.
I believe that much of these benefits can be attributed to the fact that giving freely acts as a suggestion to our unconscious mind that we have something already. And it’s in the state of “already-havingness” that we usually do and feel our best.
Think about it: how much more motivated and productive would you be starting work on a new project if you felt as if you were just about to complete it versus just beginning it? How much less stress would meeting a new romantic partner be if you dropped the neediness and chose to feel whole regardless of external circumstances? How much nicer would shopping for groceries be if you simply dropped the buyer’s remorse and sat comfortably in the knowledge that you are purchasing food to nourish and sustain you?
As we consistently think and act from a place of already having, we train ourselves to subconsciously filter for more evidence of our wealth, be it material, emotional or spiritual. In it’s purest form, giving fosters a mindset of abundance, freedom and empowerment.
Of course giving doesn’t have to be all about dollars and cents. Here is an incomplete list of alternatives to cold hard cash that are fantastic currencies to make use of:
- Song and Dance
- Prayers/Good Intentions
- Written Word
Avoiding the Pitfalls of Giving
We must be careful, however, to not cross the line from giving to martyrdom. When we chronically sacrifice our own well-being for the sake of others, we pave the way to resentment and burnout. There’s a reason that airlines tell us to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before assisting children. We are much more capable of supporting others if we ourselves are at full strength. It is essential that we regularly assess our own needs and desires so that we can contribute to our own health, stability and happiness.
Another vitally important aspect of giving is letting go of guilt around your own perceived stinginess. Between family and friends, charities, telemarketers and panhandlers, most of us can’t go a day without feeling pressured to give to some cause we think is important.
It is crucial that you release your worrying about donating to every last cause. To avoid this needless pressure and stress, make a list of two or three worthwhile things you can give to this week that are within your means, and do them.
Show me a highly successful and emotionally balanced person and I’ll show you someone who spends a significant amount of his or her time, energy and resources giving to others.
Engaging in a giving routine is a fantastic way to get out of a funk and into greater empowerment and happiness. Taking just few hours out of your week to give from your heart because you truly want to, not because you’re supposed to, is a guaranteed recipe for fulfillment. Try it and see.