Giving Tuesday is important for several reasons. First, Thanksgiving is a day giving thanks, Black Friday is a day for saving money on holiday shopping, so why not a day set aside each year to give to thousands and thousands of worthy charities across the globe; nonprofits who rely on our donations to do their important and often life-saving work. The second reason is that giving to others not only helps the recipients of our giving, but it also helps us, the givers.
Holiday shopping can be fun, but it can also be very stressful. It's easy to blow the entire Christmas shopping budget on a few "fabulous" and "must-have" gifts. But new research is showing that giving to others makes the giver, happier, healthier, and have a stronger sense of community than if they didn't give.
1. Giving makes us happy. There's no better feeling than to give someone a gift that you know they really want; seeing a child's face light up when they open that very special package from Santa Claus. Giving money to others whether it's a charity or some form of paying it forward, also gives the giver a great sense of inner joy.
2. Giving is good for our health. Recent studies show that giving can have a positive impact on health, including chronic illnesses like HIV and multiple sclerosis. One reason for this, researchers think, is that giving lowers stress which can lower blood pressure, among other benefits.
3. Giving promotes cooperation and social connection. When we give, we're more likely to get back. it also has a trickle-down effect; when you give, your generosity is likely to be rewarded by others down the line—sometimes by the person you gave to, sometimes by someone else. "These exchanges promote a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to others—and research has shown that having positive social interactions is central to good mental and physical health."
4. Giving evokes gratitude. It doesn't matter if you're on the giving or the receiving end of a gift, that gift elicits feelings of gratitude. It can be a way of expressing gratitude or instilling gratitude in the recipient. Either way, gratitude is integral for happiness, health, and social bonds.
5. Giving is contagious. That's one of the big reasons houses of religious worship pass the collection basket during a service. We see others giving and we want to be a part of it. "In fact, the researchers found that altruism could spread by three degrees—from person to person to person to person. “As a result,” they write, “each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.” It's kind of like a daisy chain letter, only better! Now how cool is that! Giving also releases oxytocin "that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection to others." And who can't use more of those feelings?
So what are you going to get for those hard-to-shop-for people on your holiday list this year? If they already have enough socks, ties, scarves, and what-nots...why not donate the same amount of money as you'd spend on a gift to their favorite charity? They get the recognition and you get that wonderful feeling of doing good for the world. There are so many wonderful charities...both for humans and for animals, that I'm sure you can find one to touch the heart of every adult on your shopping list. A few older children might appreciate it, too! Today is Giving Tuesday. Why not sit back in your comfy sweats and do a little giving to the many wonderful charities that help to make this world a better place? Everybody wins. Well, maybe not the stores. It will, however, be seen as a win-win-win for those involved. The charity wins by getting an infusion of cash to help with their cause, the recipient gets to feel that they are doing good, and you the giver...you get extra 'brownie" points for having the best gift AND you help improve your health and sense of gratitude.
Giving Tuesday must be the best gift idea ever!
I hope you'll be generous this year and support these wonderful organizations.
Please use #GivingTuesday on all your social media when you post the charities you have supported. And don't forget to encourage others to follow your lead.
Join me back here tomorrow for another life lesson from my wise old teacher, The Dharma Frog. Until then I wish you happy giving and