How much love do you put into giving?
It's not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” ― Mother Teresa
Once again, the season of giving is upon us. Frenzied shoppers are rushing to buy that perfect, last minute gift. If you’re feeling a little frazzled during this festive period then fear not, for I bring tidings of joy. Giving to others not only benefits them, but also yourself and your community.
Simply put, research has uncovered that we might just benefit more from giving, than receiving . While treating yourself to a new handbag or lipstick will give you a temporary lift, the boost that material things can give you, is short lived. A study in 2008 found that individuals spending money on others were significantly happier, than those who spent it on themselves. Even your bank balance can breathe a sigh of relief, as the amount of money spent, didn’t impact how happy the giver felt – only how the money was spent. These same benefits were also felt by people donating to charities or volunteering their time.
So what makes giving feel so good?
Altruistic behaviour has been associated with the ‘cuddle hormone’, oxytocin. So called, because it is released during pleasurable activities such as hugging, social bonding and sex. Generosity also activates areas of the brain associated with reward and caregiver-related behaviour; making it neurologically similar to learning you’ve won the lottery. It’s no wonder then, that seeing a loved one’s face light up, when they unwrap their present on Christmas day, gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling. If that isn’t enough to persuade you of the benefits of giving, it is also good for your health   . Acting generously helps to reduce physiological stress, which can increase the likelihood of numerous illnesses including, coronary heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression and gastrointestinal problems, just to name a few. Hopefully, this will help to buffer the negative effect of all those mince pies and chocolates, we’ll be scoffing this Christmas!
Giving has also been shown to be contagious (move aside common cold)!
Altruistic behaviour inspires others to also act generously. This can begin a cascade effect. Meaning that one act of kindness can inspire another, and another, eventually spreading through a network of dozens or even hundreds of people. What a comforting thought. That someone you don’t even know, might have a smile on their face, all because of an upward spiral of generosity that you started. So this Noel, remember that all those hours of wrapping and hand-picking gifts, have multiple, positive effects on yourself and others. You just might have kick-started a domino effect of giving. And instead of grumbling about the commercialism and stress of Christmas, that dose of oxytocin will have you rockin’ around the Christmas tree in no time! If you still have some last-minute gifts to buy, perhaps you will consider some of our, manufactured in Britain, offers at www.merumaya.com
 Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2008). Spending money on others promotes happiness. Science, 319, 1687-1688.