During the year, we have had many ups and downs. Throughout the months, we have been focused on survival and how to take care of our own household. This is understandable, we have to help ourselves before we are able to help someone else. But what if we choose to look at that differently? What if helping someone else does help ourselves? The importance of giving is strong, and it is never too early to teach our children to look beyond themselves to our neighbors in need.
In a year of survival mode, our stresses increase and so do our sad or lonely feelings. By looking outside yourself, it is proven to help your own health. Giving to others has been proven to reduce blood pressure, lower stress, and depression, and increases self-esteem. It has been shown that volunteers have longer lives…who doesn’t want to live longer while helping others? One reason to begin giving is because it makes you feel happy. Your brain will physically be stimulated by endorphins and bring you peace. Another reason is for your health. Stress is one of the major causes of harm to our bodies, but giving is proven to decrease it because you are thinking broader than yourself. Another reason is that giving helps connect you, which decreases loneliness. You are also connecting to your community to build relationships. The final reason, and what I think is very important, is that you are helping another human and showing generosity to also help ease their survival mode. We all have needs and a helping hand really helps both sides.
Giving does not have to happen just around the holidays but all year long. As we talk about the importance, we also want to be able to teach the next generation on being generous. You can start small, especially if your children are small. Teach them how to bake for the neighbors, raise money for a charity with a lemonade stand, or collect cans to donate. This promotes sharing and empathy in children. You can emphasize not all giving requires money. You can make cards or give out personalized gift certificates for an act of kindness by yourself or your child. Remember as well, when we go to donate to other families, your children are the best to tell you what toy to send! It also involves your child, so they feel confident.
You can also donate your time and model this to your child. For example, volunteer at a soup kitchen or animal shelter. When talking to your kids, ask them what they are grateful for or what has made their year easier and how they can share that feeling. Talk about neighbors, soldiers, or distant relatives who may be spending the holiday alone and how to reach out. Giving from a young age has been proven to boost self-esteem, confidence, and teaches lessons of how your actions matter.
It may feel selfish to give for your own benefit, but in the process, you will learn how your giving affects others and it becomes addictive. Your actions can change a person’s day or year. If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed by the year, remember others are too. To make it simpler, remember these 5 tips:
Try increasing or sharing your tips for giving this year and see how your mood increases! You might also notice your children enjoying a generosity focused mindset.