Every year my family “adopts” local families for Christmas through the Salvation Army. Every year it turns into an amazing experience for us all. This weekend, we finished buying and wrapping the presents for two families. Most of the time we know nothing about them besides their likes and sizes. Sometimes, we find out more…like what they really need are the most basic of things – clothing to keep them warm and food to feed their family. The act of giving can be heartbreaking and inspiring all at once, even contributing to a healthier me.
Every year, we are reminded how very true it is that it’s better to give than receive. But did you realize, the act of giving to others can create a healthier life for the giver?
GIVING MINDS (& BODY) – The act of giving evokes feelings of gratitude. It creates healthy and positive impacts on your physical, mental and emotional health. Giving may improve your health and increase your longevity. We all experience stress, especially around the holidays. The act of giving can help to decrease that holiday stress. It can also lower your blood pressure, increase your self-esteem, and help with depression. The gratitude that comes from giving helps you think and feel more positive and optimistic about life.
GIVING JOY – Anticipating the joy you bring others when they receive the gift makes you happy. A study by the Harvard Business School showed that participants who were given money reported more feelings of happiness when they spent it on another person rather than on themselves. It creates a “helper’s high” that lasts much longer than the just the day you gave.
GIVING INSPIRATION – Through your stories and encouragement, others may give too. It can be contagious. For instance, I was just sharing my giving story with a friend today. At the end of the conversation, she said, “I want to do this too! I have done it before and I felt amazing. I am going to do it again.” Even just doing a simple act of kindness that is paid forward (and possibly again and again). YOU could inspire many!
TEACH GIVING – Children who make an effort to perform acts of kindness report being happier and feeling more accepted by their peers. Involving my children in picking out the gifts only enriches the experience more, as I ask them to choose presents they would love. Sometimes wrapping those presents they wanted is the hardest part. But, it teaches them to think of others and realize how blessed they really are. My hope is by teaching the act of giving they will become caring, compassionate, and generous adults.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the hap, happiest season of all…It’s the season of giving. No matter what you give…a simple act of kindness, your time, or making a family’s Christmas extra special, I promise you will have a healthy feeling of happiness. I hope you are inspired this season!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I write blogs about my accomplishments, my failures, my doubts, my goals, and my inspiration. But, it’s really not about me. It’s about real life and the challenges we each face and continuing to find your strength along the way. I want to inspire people, but I also want them to see the real me. I am just a normal person trying to do the best I can with what I was given. This is my journey and you have yours. Nobody is perfect…all the time. We all suck at things. -Mary Sheckler
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