HomeDaily DigestThe Joy of Giving: Make a Positive Impact in the New Year

The Joy of Giving: Make a Positive Impact in the New Year

Winston Churchill

“You gotta see this!” Jorge Moll wrote in an email to Jordan Grafman. They were neuroscientists at the National Institutes of Health, researching the effects of giving on the brain. They did fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging ) on the brains of the participants while they were asked to think about donating a sum of money or keeping it for themselves.
The results of their study demonstrated that when the volunteers placed the interests of others before their own, generosity activated or lit up a primitive part of the brain. Donating affects two brain reward systems working together: the midbrain VTA which is usually stimulated by things like food and money; as well as the subgenual area, which is stimulated when humans see babies and romantic partners. [The Giving Way to Happiness (US, 2015): Book excerpt]

Giving need not be just giving money. It could be anything from giving your time to giving your talents or being there for someone when in need. In a study of alcoholics going through the Alcoholics Anonymous program, those who helped others were nearly twice as likely to remain sober for a year and their levels of depression were lower too. Experts call this the “wounded healer” principle. Helping others could have a tremendous benefit for the person in need, as well as for the helpers themselves.

So this New Year let’s include generosity in our resolutions. Here are 5 ways to help you with it.

Baby steps of generosity

You don’t have to donate a huge amount to charity to start with. You can start by doing small acts of kindness. It could be letting someone in urgency get ahead of you in the queue in a grocery store or helping someone with something small. It is a sacrificial heart that matters most in giving, not the amount donated.

Notice those in need around you

It’s very easy to miss small opportunities to help those in need around you, if you aren’t actively thinking about it. It could range from helping someone with carrying their luggage to being there for your friend in a time of need.

Avoid accounting

Don’t keep an account of everything that you’ve given and what you’ve received in return. That would largely lead to us being chained by self-consciousness or self-centredness. Instead, the Bible teaches us of the sheer freedom of sacrificial giving when we become “a cheerful giver.”

Giving yourself

Generosity need not necessarily mean giving money; it could also be done by volunteering. This could mean various things, ranging from helping an elderly neighbor to helping a friend run an errand. A study showed “Despite encountering challenges, the rewards of the altruistic endeavor outweighed any frustrations experienced by volunteers.” [2002, Pain Management Nursing]

Be Emotionally Available

In our relationships with people let’s always be emotionally available, generous, and hospitable. It is a form of giving as said by Smith and Davidson in The Paradox of Generosity.

So, as we are stepping into a new year, let’s cultivate the virtue of generosity. The Bible says, “It’s more blessed to give than receive.”


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