1. Giving Makes us happy.
All kinds of studies have shown that giving produces a “helpers high”, but a 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more that spending it on themselves.
2. Giving Promotes Cooperation and Social Connections.
Giving and receiving promotes a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to one another and creates opportunities for positive social experiences. This is even more significant when we understand the important role that the breadth and depth of our connections, and the experience of feeling part of something greater than ourselves play in our level of happiness.
3. Giving is Contagious.
Not only is giving often reciprocal, but when one person behaves generously, it inspires not only the recipient, but observers to behave generously towards others. Even more surprisingly, this altruism can have a ripple effect of up to three degrees. One person’s simple good deed can literally have an impact on hundreds of people.
4. Giving Evokes Empathy.
When we take the time to help our kids consider what others don’t have we are helping them to learn to empathize. Some quick tips: i) Kids are more likely to be able empathize when they understand what they have in common with those they are giving to. Whether giving to a hungry child in Africa or someone in their own community, helping kids focus on similarities rather than differences will increase their experience of empathy ii) It’s harder to understand another’s experience when we aren’t sharing it. For instance, when talking to kids about the benefits of a coat drive, talk to them when they are feeling cold themselves, rather than when they are warm and cozy and encourage them to imagine what it would be like to feel cold most of the time. It can be hard for children to remember and relate to an uncomfortable experience after the fact.
5. Giving Fosters Gratitude.
Giving to someone less fortunate forces us to count our blessings and to appreciate what we have. And when we can do that, in the words of Melody Beattie, “it turns what we have into enough, and more.”