The Christmas Season is over, but that doesn’t mean our spirit of giving should be.
New research conducted at Northwestern University reveals that giving to others provides us with an ongoing source of happiness—no matter how frequently we do it.
In these studies, individuals were given a small monetary allowance each day for about a week. One group of individuals was instructed to keep the daily allowance for themselves, while another group donated the money each day to a charity or cause of their choice. Each group kept a log of their overall happiness at the end of every day.
Upon completing the experiment, the participants who gave to others reported greater overall happiness each day, while those who kept the money showed a decline in happiness each day over the course of the week.
So what does this mean for us in our every day lives?
While the currently popular topic of self-care is very important, the results of these and similar research studies show that it would be beneficial to our overall happiness to add giving to others to our regular schedule.
Giving can come in many forms, from donating to a charity on a regular basis, volunteering at or donating to a food bank, giving money, water, food, etc. to homeless individuals we see, or giving clothes, socks, or other necessities to homeless shelters. While these are just a few examples, these are all great ways of giving to others within the immediate or greater community.
However, we can also bring this spirit of giving to those within our family. In addition to our regular family life, one way of increasing our practice of giving within our family is to choose at least one family member each day and ask ourselves, “What is one thing I can do today to give to my [spouse, son, daughter, etc.] and show him/her that I love them and care about their happiness?” This can be done through getting/making your spouse’s favorite meal for dinner, giving your chid his/her favorite snack when you pick them up from school or extra-curricular activities, letting that family member choose what game you play as a family, or letting them pick which show you watch together. Writing a small note of love and appreciation for that family member and placing it in their packed lunch or somewhere else for them to find during the day is another great practice.
Whatever it may be, these small acts of kindness can have a big impact on another person by showing them you care. Moreover, practicing giving in these and other ways will actually increase our personal happiness as well!