Especially around the holidays, people are in the mood of giving. Whether this be giving gifts to friends and family, giving change to the Salvation Army, or making generous donations to philanthropies, people are more open to give.
But there’s a reason for this.
So why does giving feel so damn good?
After compiling some research together, I’ve narrowed it down to three reasons:
1. Happiness is strongly correlated with relationships.
They say that money can’t buy happiness, but perhaps it can when you buy for others. It is not the physical gift or donation that is what makes you happy, it’s the action. The feeling that you are bringing happiness into someone else’s life makes you feel happy yourself. Best explained by social psychology professor Stephen Joseph of the University of Nottingham, …”the things that are important are things to do with relationships, with other people, and things that help to promote meaning, the purpose in life.” The development of relationships, whether that be rekindling, strengthening, or starting them, gives our lives meaning.
A professor of mine once said that “when you pass, you won’t necessarily be remembered by your resume. But you will be remembered by your actions and who you are as a human being”. Having a successful career should be a goal, but in the end, what you do is equally, if not more important, and giving speaks loudly about your personality.
2. It’s universal.
Think of a person who hates gifts. Genuinely, despises receiving anything from others. It’s hard to do so. Primarily because it has been studied that the reward from helping others is deeply rooted in human nature, according to studies from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Despite the various economical and culture differences across the globe, this is one thing that remains true throughout.
This concept doesn’t make sense to many economists, who often view human nature as egotistic. If you make money, how are you happier by giving it away, in one form or another? However, most people don’t fully understand this greater joy, and thus would never give. But it is worth a shot.
3. There is a physiological response.
Oxytocin, or the ❤️love hormone ❤️, is released during the action of giving, building that connection between you and others. After this oxytocin is released, there is a lasting effect afterwards where you want to keep giving and doing things for others, so those who give often crave to give again. Also, the mesolimbic pathway, or the reward center closely relate to dopamine, was active when giving, according to researchers.
There’s a quote by Winston Churchill that sums up the joy of giving:
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
So how can you give?
The obvious donation route may be a little intimidating for college students, especially because #studentloans. However, there a little things you can do to give back:
- Surprise a friend/co-worker with a cup of coffee or tea.
- Give compliments to strangers.
- Invite someone over for dinner.
- Thank your professors, janitors, security guards, or cashier. Oftentimes, these people go unnoticed for their work, but if we didn’t have them, our world would suffer.
- Offer your seat on the bus to someone who’s carrying a lot of bags.
- Do a chore around the house without anyone asking.
- Pick up the tab during your next lunch with a friend.
Whatever it may be, cherish the joy of giving, #fitufam.
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