Is there a surprising connection between Giving and happiness or should I just be saying there is a deep rooted connection between giving and happiness.
I have thought a lot about giving and how it makes people happy as we globally shelter in place during COVID-19. As I home school my kids, and attempt to retain a scheduled normal day, giving is still a big part of what we do. This has been our way of staying happy during these unprecedented times, stay happy while we are isolated from friends and family, stay happy while we struggle with new norms in the four walls of our homes.
Globally people are taking care of their physical wellbeing, which has been critically important. But are we also looking after our mental wellbeing during this time? Coordinating physical wellbeing from a public health perspective has been challenging, but that does not mean we can’t take care of it ourselves.
So I have dug back into the research that shows the connection between giving and happiness and I am so glad I did. Not only has this exercise reaffirmed the importance of giving for myself, my family, friends and our community, but I am going to fight harder to make sure people understand that giving is a direct path to happiness. I will continue my journey to educate the hearts and minds of global communities why it is so important to give every day.
Volunteerism, charitable donations, random acts of kindness, generosity. Giving takes time, and in some cases can take money. It uses valuable resources – time, money, space – items that under any standard economic theory does not make sense – a charitable donation in many instances does not produce any economic advantages. Economists keep proving that giving is not beneficial BUT PEOPLE STILL DO IT! Why?
During COVID-19 we have witnessed people giving food, money, energy, time, and in some cases, like health care workers or volunteers, risking their lives to give to others. WHY ARE THEY DOING IT?
When theories of psychology began digging into giving and took a hold of the studies of why people give, they were able to prove a direct relationship between giving and happiness. The reward, the reason for, the motivating factor that drove people to give, and keep giving, was happiness. They felt good when they gave, they knew they were making someone else happy. Their visceral response to giving made sense even if it did not make sense anywhere else in their life.
I think many of us have heard stories where someone gave their last dollar to someone in need, or a family who struggled to pay their bills gave what they could to help another. We also hear about the people who risk their lives to help another, or save an animal, as it made them happy to be a part of that giving process.
How we feel after we give is the sole reason we give.
There is a quantifiable physical response to giving that has been documented in psychological studies of happiness. Our endorphins and hormones have a neurological response when we give. Endorphins increase, Serotonin increases, and our stress hormone Cortisol decreases. We experience a feeling of nirvana similar to a runner’s high. It is happiness in its physical state.
Emotionally we feel calmer, we switch to an emotional place of wellbeing instead of self-loathing. We smile, we feel good, we feel at peace. These are some of the words people use after they finish just a small act of giving. One small act, that is all it takes to change your state of being and feel happier.
So if theories outside of psychology can not find a logic reason for giving, we are thankful psychologists found the connection between giving and happiness.
Have you tested this out in your own life? Have you felt happier listening to the stories of giving during COVID-19? I know I have. And our family has felt even better when we completed our gives.
The ripple effect of other’s people’s giving will bring on an enhanced sense of wellbeing as we take on the feeling of happiness the givers and receivers felt themselves. Think of all of the cheers people around the world are giving our healthcare workers. Think of the smile you had when you saw your neighbours reach out to one another either offering supplies, or a way to do someone else’s shopping, or just sending out encouraging and thoughtful words to get us through our new reality of staying at home.
Our giving during the last 6 Weeks has been instrumental in maintaining our wellbeing and a positive state of being. Other friends and 365give members who continue a daily giving habit during COVID-19 have said the same thing. Giving is connected to happiness and happiness they have felt during these unprecedented times.
Why not try the 365give Challenge and see how your happiness increases. Whether you are at home alone or with family, your mental health and happiness will increase as you complete one small give every day.
Sign up for our COVID daily giving ideas, and find out how you can give virtually as we wait this out. The ideas are easy to do, take just a few minutes and are not just donations. You will be amazed at how you can give daily with these simple ideas.