I’m always struck by how good giving feels. It doesn’t matter if I’m donating Stuff I don’t want anymore, dropping off food in the latest food drive, or writing out a check to my local animal rescue. No matter how often I do it, how big or small the gift, giving always makes me feel wonderful.
Why does giving back feel so good? What is it about helping others that makes us so happy?
I have no scientific evidence to answer these questions (but there is plenty out there). Part of me believes that facts and figures would seem cold and slightly irrelevant in this context anyway.
After all, do you need statistics to prove that you feel better after giving to charity? Do you need New York Times researchers to tell you that donating lights up the “pleasure center” in your brain, which is what makes you feel good? Do you need proof from Harvard scientists that helping out other human beings lowers your stress levels and makes you happy?
I think not.
I think what we do need is a gentle reminder that, even though we’re in a recession, there are people out there that still need our help. In fact, more people than ever are relying on outside assistance to get by. It’s become more important than ever that we give and help others in need.
Identifying Why You Give
Everyone has different reasons for giving. Some might give to avoid paying higher taxes. Others might give because it makes them feel important.
But, I don’t believe for a minute that the majority of people give for those reasons. I think we give because at heart, we all know that we’re in this together. As Barack Obama said in “The Audacity of Hope”, as humans we rise and fall and one. Our neighbors’ problems are ultimately ours as well. The struggles of the rich, the poor, the professionals, and the working class are shouldered by us all in the end. And when we fail to help, we diminish ourselves.
Humans are by nature communal creatures. Most of us don’t want to be alone, and most of us can’t bear to see others suffering. I think that we give to feel a part of the larger thread, to stave off that loneliness and awaken something good in our heart again. After all, the feeling you get after helping someone is completely unique. I don’t believe I’ve experienced it anywhere else, in any other situation.
Giving In A Recession
I know times are tough right now. I’ve lost clients in my writing business because their business is down, or closing entirely.
But I don’t dwell on these things. I haven’t stopped giving to my usual charities, and I’m actually planning to increase my donations next month on a regular basis.
Because my problems are paltry compared to others. I read these accounts of people losing their jobs, losing their homes, going hungry, and it breaks my heart. What other choice is there? For me, I feel like I have a responsibility to help. But it’s far more than that. I want to. If I didn’t, I would feel completely out of control. The bad news would make me feel sad and helpless. But giving puts power back into my hands, and I can do something about the situation.
Instead of watching helplessly, I can take action. I can help.
I wanted to put this article out there to encourage you to keep giving, even though times are tough. Even if it’s $5, one can of soup, or one hour of your time. Even if it seems small or insignificant, it never is. You’re always making a difference, even if it’s to just one person.
But, think about that one person. Your act of charity could give them the strength, courage, and faith they need to pick themselves back up again. Sometimes what we think is small isn’t small at all. The amazing thing is that you just never know what can happen with a gift.
The other amazing thing is that by helping lift someone else up, you’re lifting up yourself at the same time. Giving allows you to let your heart shine, and it puts you in touch with something much greater than yourself. I truly believe that when you give, you get far more in return. It happens all the time.
Needs some help finding some good charities? Here’s a list you can check out: