‘Tis the season

By LAURIE STUART
Posted 11/30/21

It is said that “It’s better to give than to receive.”

But of course, it’s not that simple.

Giving actually benefits the gift giver and the gift receiver, says Aileen …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

‘Tis the season

Posted

It is said that “It’s better to give than to receive.”

But of course, it’s not that simple.

Giving actually benefits the gift giver and the gift receiver, says Aileen Avery, author of “Gift Rap: The History and Art of Gift Giving.” “When we give to others, it benefits ourselves as well as to the people we give to. Especially during a trying time, we need connection with each other and doing a simple act of kindness goes a long way, both for our own mental health and for the happiness of others.”

Yep, giving makes us feel happy.

In a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.”

And it’s good for us.

A wide range of research has linked different forms of generosity to better health, even among the sick and elderly. Researchers suggest that one reason giving may improve physical health and longevity is that it helps decrease stress, which is associated with a variety of health problems. In a 2006 study by Rachel Piferi of Johns Hopkins University and Kathleen Lawler of the University of Tennessee, people who provided social support to others had lower blood pressure than participants who didn’t, suggesting a direct physiological benefit to those who give of themselves.

And it’s good for the community.

Giving promotes cooperation and social connection. 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. When we give, we don’t only help the immediate recipient of our gift. We also spur a ripple effect of generosity through our community.

So whether you buy gifts, volunteer your time, or donate money to non-profits this holiday season, your giving is much more than just a year-end chore. It may help you build stronger social connections and even jumpstart a cascade of generosity through your community. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself benefiting from a big dose of happiness in the process.

community, giving, health, generosity, happiness

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here