Ever heard someone saying “it is better to give than receive”? When I was younger I used to think that was because whoever was saying it wanted something from me!!
Now I understand that giving actually has something for me, and there is actually a lot of truth in that very old statement that originally comes from the bible (Acts 20:35).
Research available today confirms this too, and shows us that giving is especially good for our mental health and wellbeing. In fact, giving is included as one of the top 5 beneficial ways that we can be intentional about our health and wellbeing according to the “NHS Five Ways to Wellbeing”.
Altruistically giving means giving selflessly, seeking or expecting nothing in return, and is correlated with better health, longer lives, and a greater sense of purpose.
This type of giving is also the opposite of the law of reciprocity, where we give in many social situations as a way of paying back what we have received from others.
Some cases of reciprocity may be fine, but if our motivation for giving is to get something in return, we can become frustrated, disappointed or feel inadequate.
Giving with a motivation of reciprocity, therefore, is not particularly healthy!
Giving altruistically can take many forms. Here are 5:
1. Giving Time
This can be also known as Serving or Volunteering.
Though beneficial for all ages, volunteering can be particularly beneficial for older adults or empty nesters, who may have more available time after their children have left home or their formal careers have come to an end.
Volunteering gives us an opportunity to see ourselves, and our happiness in relation to the wider community, and can be incredibly rewarding as we create connections with people around us. The activity gives a sense of purpose and value, prevents isolation and the sharing of years of experience can be life-giving for all.
We all have the same 24 hours available every day, it is the one thing that is common to each and every one of us. How we spend them (intentionally or not!) is up to us.
Giving our time enables us to also share our talents and experiences, and often be part of something greater than the sum of its parts - where one person can do a lot, but more people coming together can devote themselves to different tasks and collectively do something greater than all the individuals could achieve on their own.
2. Giving Grace.
When I say Grace, I mean giving favour to someone who may, or may not, deserve it, and putting others ahead of ourselves. It can come in many forms, and may simply be offering to help someone with their shopping bags, or instead of becoming frustrated by a long queue, chose instead to let someone else in front of you in the supermarket or traffic.
Grace can also be beneficial when we make mistakes or get things wrong.
This week I was hugely blessed by a friend generously helping me out when I committed the ultimate faux-par and forgot an important parents information evening.
Not only did this friend send me all the information I had missed, but she also reminded me that we all make mistakes and not to be hard on myself.
She didn’t have to do either of those things, but I was hugely grateful for both her practical support and encouragement and for helping me keep the situation in its proper perspective.
In the western culture we live in, we are all rich.
We may not feel like it, but the fact that you are reading this blog tells me you have access to the internet and a computer, and probably live and eat indoors.
If you want to see just how rich you are you can check out your global position.
I rarely see people who have lots of money making them truly happy unless they give some away. But I have seen some of the poorest and most generous and joyful people in the world gladly and joyfully give their last cup of rice away to a TV film crew!
There are many ways to give, and many organisations who can all do great good with what we have to offer. We don’t even have to give actual £’s if we don’t want to. We can give unwanted clothes to the charity shop, or give homemade or purchased gifts, or even cut some flowers from our own garden if we prefer.
If we are in a position to give financially and are a UK tax-payer, every gift to a registered charity has the potential to be multiplied through gift aid. That means next time we're donating £10 to charity, that charity could claim an additional £2.50 from the government through gift aid.
Giving a smile.
Smiles cost us nothing but can make all the difference. We were designed to be in relationship, and smiles create meaningful connections between us, even if briefly, that can brighten both our own and another’s day!
This is especially valuable to people who don’t encounter many other people in their everyday lives for one reason or another, for example, elderly relatives or neighbours.
This is an extension of the above really but can make a person feel ten times taller. Have you ever given a child praise or encouragement and see their head lift and chest pop out with pride?
Giving encouragement lets people know that they, or what they are doing, matters.
It is most helpful when we take the extra time to let them know exactly what it is that blessed us!
I know I am always hugely blessed when people take the time to let me know how and that these blogs are encouraging you - It inspires me to write more! Thank you.
I’m sure there are plenty more ways to give and I’d love to hear about how you find ways to give altruistically… message me here….
Lastly, I'd love to share how the comedian Michael Jnr. gives laughter... Check out his story here…
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If you want to give or be part of the work of Intentional Health you can do so in 5 ways. Click on the links for more info…
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