What is giving and why is it important?
Giving is the act of freely parting with something and offering it to someone or something beyond ourselves- a stranger, friend, family member, a charitable organisation, our local community or our wider-community. It can involve parting with material things like money and gifts, or immaterial things like our time, skills, knowledge, enthusiasm, passion and kindness. In practice, giving can look like a number of things – it could mean supporting a friend with a problem, donating clothes or unused items to a charity, volunteering your time for a cause you care about, or simply making an effort to make more time for the people that you care about.
The benefits that giving makes to our mental health and our sense of wellbeing are numerous. Feeling part of something and connected to the world around us is important for our sense of wellbeing. As social creatures, we benefit from engaging with other people on a meaningful level. When we give to others; this promotes a sense of trust and cooperation in our relationships. Through this, we strengthen our relationships with others making them more positive, which is key to good mental health. When we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them. Through cultivating gratitude in everyday life, by showing the people around us that we care, we increase our own positivity about the world and those around us.
At a more scientific level, a number of studies have shown that Giving has an in-build effect on our moods. Evidence from neuroscience suggests that giving activates the ‘reward’ area of our brains, meaning that we intrinsically experience good feelings when we give to others. What’s more, giving is contagious. When we give to others, this has a knock-on effect – the people who are given to are more likely to act kindly and give to others as a result, promoting happiness and improving our wellbeing.
Giving doesn’t just provide benefits to our relationships or provides us with immediate psychological rewards to our moods. Giving can really help us gain a healthier perspective about the world around us. Giving to others helps us think about other people and takes our thoughts away from our own concerns to see the ‘bigger picture’.
How we can Give every day
Whoever we are, whatever we do, we can make giving part of our daily lives. Often, it’s the little things that can make all the difference to our mental health and wellbeing, and trying to make Giving part of our daily life can be a real positive step towards living a happier and more fulfilling life. As the old adage says: “the more you give the more you get back”