Whether you’re buying gifts or donating time, money, or physical items to those in need, giving is a fantastic thing to do. You may prefer to focus on the altruism of giving, but you can also appreciate the payback for yourself — studies show that giving can actually boost your physical and mental health. In this blog, to celebrate the season of giving, we’ll explore the history and cultural impact of Giving Tuesday, along with the benefits of giving and a few simple ways that you can start today.
A Look at Giving Tuesday
Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. It’s a “global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.” Giving Tuesday is present in 75 countries, each representing their own cultures and needs, while remaining united in their determination to mobilize their countries around generosity and shared humanity.1
Pictured: Radical generosity concept Source: GivingTuesday
Giving Tuesday was initiated in 2012 by Henry Timms at the 92nd Street Y in New York. The co-founding organization was the United Nations Foundation, along with help from BLK SHP (Black Sheep). Giving Tuesday has received support from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Emerson Collective, Fidelity Charitable, the Ford Foundation, the Ford Motor Company, PayPal, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and more.2
To learn more about Giving Tuesday and how you can participate, click here.
The Benefits of Giving
“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” – Chinese Proverb
While holiday shopping can be stressful, remembering the ‘why’ behind our gifting helps spirits stay high. New studies attest to the benefits of giving — not just for the recipients but for the givers’ happiness and health, and for the strength of entire communities. Here’s a more in-depth look at the benefits of giving:
Generosity Can Be Great for Your Brain
Have you ever witnessed someone doing something nice for another person? Next time that happens, try to pay attention to the person doing the giving and you may notice how they light up with happiness; this is nicknamed the “giver’s glow.” Additionally, according to researchers at Stony Brook University, altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing a positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.”3
Generosity Can Be Good for Your Health
A wide range of research has linked generosity to better health, even among the sick and elderly. In his book, Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine, says, “giving to others has been shown to increase health benefits in people with chronic illnesses, including HIV and multiple sclerosis.”4
Researchers suggest that one reason giving may improve physical health is that it can decrease stress, which contributes to an array of health-related issues. In a 2006 study, for example, people who provided social support to others had lower blood pressure than participants who didn’t, suggesting a direct physiological benefit to those who give.5
Giving May Promote Cooperation and Social Connection
Several studies have suggested that when you give, your generosity will likely be rewarded by others down the line. These exchanges promote a sense of trust and cooperation that can strengthen our ties to others — and research has shown that having positive social interactions is central to good mental and physical health.6
Additionally, when we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us, but we also feel closer to them. “Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably,” writes Sonja Lyubomirsky in her book, The How of Happiness, which “fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.”7
Giving Can Evoke Gratitude
Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of a gift, that gift can elicit feelings of gratitude, and research has found that gratitude is integral to happiness, health, and social bonds. In fact, a study found that expressing gratitude to a close friend or partner strengthens our sense of connection to that person.8
Barbara Fredrickson, a pioneering happiness researcher, says that cultivating gratitude in everyday life is one of the keys to personal happiness. “When you express your gratitude, you not only boost your own positivity but other people’s as well,” she writes in her book, Positivity. “And in the process, you reinforce their kindness and strengthen your bond to one another.”9
Giving May Be Contagious
One study found that when a person is generous, it can create a ripple effect. Researchers found that altruism could spread by three degrees — from person to person to person to person. “As a result,” they wrote, “each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.”10, 11
Simple Ways to Give
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi
With busy schedules and ingrained habits, making time for giving may feel like a daunting challenge, but there are actually tons of quick and free ways to give back to your community, friends, and family. Here are simple ways you can start giving today:
- Spend time with others. Our time is often worth more than our money these days, and spending it on someone with nothing to gain for ourselves is a beautiful gift. Try cooking a new recipe with a friend/family member or just spend time chatting; either way, remember that quality time doesn’t have to be structured to be meaningful.
- Perform acts of kindness. You can perform an act of kindness almost anywhere and at anytime. You can be as creative and involved as you want — devoting days to an elaborate project or doing good in just a few seconds. Click here to learn more about acts of kindness and how you can take part.
- Make someone laugh. It’s been said that “laughter is the antifreeze of the soul.” Particularly on a cold day, it helps keep us going and allows us to be cheery when things seem a little dreary. Laughing has also been proven to be one of the most potent antidepressants. To learn more about the power of laughter and smiling, click here.
- Be grateful. A simple “thank you” can mean the world. Donations and charity work are great ways to give back, but just offering your genuine appreciation for friends and family can boost their mood, along with yours. Plus, gratitude also improves your relationships — and practicing thanks can make you more generous over time.
- Donate blood. A single blood donation can save the lives of 3 people. If you’re able, try going into your local blood drive to give blood. If you’re feeling inspired, visit the American Red Cross to learn more about how you can host a blood drive event.
- Volunteer in your community. Think of an issue that you’re passionate about or a need that you see in your local community. Then, search for charities that aim to help and see how you can volunteer. Donating your time doesn’t just make you feel good, but it’s also a great way to give back.
- Donate to a charity that you believe in. Giving money to a worthy cause is an extremely generous act. Your donation will allow tons of passionate, knowledgeable individuals to continue doing good in the world. Remember that even a little can make a big difference!
- Spread good news. Sometimes the world can feel a little dark, so try to brighten someone’s day in a positive way. There are always great things happening out there — in your community, in the world, or even in your circle of friends. Do what you can to make sure the people around you get to experience some of those highlights.
“Give One Get One” with Humanist Beauty On Giving Tuesday
To make giving a little easier, Humanist Beauty is holding a “Give One Get One” Sale that’s starting on Giving Tuesday (November 29th). During this event, we’ll double all full-price items in your cart (excludes bundles and sale items). In addition, we’re giving a FREE Jasper Buddha Bracelet valued at $20 to every order over $100. Use promo code LOVEMORE22 at checkout to activate. Sale ends at midnight on December 8th.
What’s your favorite way to give? Let us know in the comments!