On Monday, I shared a story on my personal blog about a little girl who stole the show during our Sunday School class. Our lesson for the day, as you might well imagine, was on the story of Jesus’ birth. We had read the passage in Luke 2 that tells of His birth and the angels’ visit to the shepherds and were watching the companion video. In the video lesson, one of the children had given a gift that meant a lot to her because she wanted to show how much her friends meant to her. This was one of the characters who often focuses on the negative things around her, and she acted like it wasn’t a big deal, but you could see that the giving had made her happy. She even offered a rare smile.
As I started the ending video, the younger sister of one of my fifth graders came into the room. In her class, she told us, they had been allowed to pick out several gifts that their teacher (my husband, Larry) had provided. Among them, this younger sister had spied a gold box that held a bracelet — really just a piece of costume jewelry, but it was beautiful to her and she had wanted it.
But, the interesting thing is, she didn’t want it for herself. She wanted it as a gift for her big sister and couldn’t wait for class to be finished to give away the gift. She delivered the box and then headed back to her own room, not even waiting to see her sister open it. She knew her sister would love it, and the giving had been enough to make her happy.
Turns out, that science supports the fact that giving is enough to make us happy!
According to a Reuters report, a study conducted by Canadian researcher Elizabeth Dunn (who studies happiness at the University of British Columbia) indicates that people who give to charity are measurably happier than those who do not. And the good news is that this benefit is available to all of us, regardless of economic status. As Dunn told the Reuters reporter, “People who donate money to charity are happier in poor and rich countries alike. You don’t have to have a lot to experience the emotional benefits of giving.”
But the benefits don’t stop there, Dunn found. Giving also had a positive impact on blood pressure among her study participants. And that health benefit didn’t depend on “factors like income, wealth, age and exercise.” In fact, “[giving] may be quite literally good for our hearts,” Dunn is quoted as saying.
Giving is a natural part of our thoughts during the Christmas season and as the calendar year end approaches [tax benefits, anyone?], Dana and I hope you’ll include the following question in your planning for 2016 as well:
How can I make a positive impact on others?
Turns out, that’s a very personal question. You’ll need to examine your core values and priorities to determine where you want to invest your time, energy and money. Whether your passion is animal rescue, impoverished children, world hunger, clean water, higher education, or any of a million other good causes that come to mind, find a place or a cause in which to invest yourself. Notice I didn’t just say “invest your money.” That type of charity is important, but serving others also is a key to happiness. An article from the Huffington Post refers to a “helper’s high” generated from serving others, with additional benefits being improved self-esteem (who doesn’t need that!), a more optimistic outlook and even inner peace. In fact, researchers at UCLA, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Plymouth found kindness to be contagious.
That talk of contagious kindness reminds me of our purpose here in The Pink Typewriter Project World. We want to encourage happiness and the type of acts that not only spread happiness but allow us all to understand we can build it in ourselves. We’d love to hear how it’s making a difference in your world. What do you think of incorporating the idea of being a positive impact into your 2016? What would that look like for you? Please share with us in the comments.
Watch for a fun e-gift coming to our email subscribers this Christmas!
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We wish you the merriest of Christmases!