Dr. Nancy Mramor
Research shows that giving can create amazing effects in the body and mind. And now we know of a way to boost those benefits in 2022! When you give a gift, you typically get a verbal, electronic, or written acknowledgment and thanks. You often feel elated briefly, knowing that your gift or donation made a difference. But what if giving or doing a good deed anonymously can improve your mood, have long-term effects on life satisfaction, and stimulate brain activity associated with pleasure and reward? When giving our brain releases chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, giving you a sense of reward. A reduction in stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and better sleep are also associated with the part of the brain that is stimulated with giving. And when these chemicals are released, depression is lessened.
So what if giving privately giving reaps more benefits than personal giving? And is this true for everyone? It’s especially true for those with “high-moral identity,” according to the International Journal of Research and Marketing. Those who strongly identify with their moral values found the greatest benefit from anonymous giving. Does that mean that everyone else does not get the same benefit? It may mean that when we behave in accordance with what matters most to us in the interpersonal domain that we experience the greatest sense or reward. If you are ready to think about giving for health and happiness, consider the following forms:
Ways to Give to Make A Difference
1. Give money personally or charitably. Exercise your inner philanthropist and give to a charity whose cause truly matters to you.
2. Mentor and give of your expertise. Share your personal and collective wisdom with those who are less informed and experienced. Run an online book group or special interest group.
3. Volunteer to give of your energy. Volunteer opportunities can be local or virtual. Information is available at CharityVest.org.
4. Give in ways that express yourself creatively. Opportunities for self-expression increase generosity, and make you feel better. You aren’t just giving something of monetary value but instead are giving a part of yourself.
5. Give in ways that express your most important values, reinforcing who you are and reminding you of what matters most.
6. Give anonymously for the greatest health and happiness benefit and…
7. Give Affection and appreciation as a lasting way to give. I have found that in 2021, reviews of businesses were based first on how the business made reviewers feel and secondarily on the quality of the service. Whether it was a plumber, restaurant, or online assistant, the comments that were made primarily included whether the business was kind and considerate of their needs. Whether the food was delicious, or the furnace was fixed came last.
Making someone feel important and loved leaves a lasting impression. Tell someone you care, call a friend for no reason, and give everyone you meet your best self.
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