Why Give?

A Beginner’s Guide to Being Human

Do you really want to know why you should give? I’m sure that you already know the answer. And no, it’s not just so you can receive something in return, like a chance to win a blender from a charity or a backrub from your partner.

Actually, it’s a trick question because you really have no choice in the matter. Giving is one of the things that comes most naturally us. It’s a form of cooperation that has contributed to the success of our species in more ways that we can possibly imagine.

From the raising of every baby to the aid of the sick, it’s in our nature to give our time and resources to those in need. The desire to help is what allowed our ancestors to band together into communities.

 

Giving is such an intrinsic part of our lives that the Greek word for happiness, eudaimonia, also means “human flourishing.” Happiness wasn’t about one person, it referred to the well-being of their whole community.

But in recent years, this collectivist mindset has shifted to an individualistic one. Today our community might be struggling with hunger but one person might be happy because they alone have the resources to feed themselves. Now we’re making the choice to deny this most natural part of our human instincts by walking right past poverty, making sure that we don’t look directly in its jaundiced face.

People make the choice not to give. The problem with this choice is it’s not a choice we’re happy to make. It always feels hypocritical and unnatural.

So while I won’t deny that you already give to your small community in ways like thoughtful gifts, helping them move, and listening to them when they’re down, I’m here to tell you why we should switch back to the old concept of eudaimonia and make your community larger and a larger part of your life.

Top 5 Reasons to Give More

1.) Giving Makes You Feel Good

 Giving releases the hormone oxytocin, which is linked to the pleasure we feel during pair bonding.

1.) Giving Makes You Feel Good

It releases the “happy hormone” dopamine, just like occurs after ingesting addictive substance like cocaine. In other words, give hugs, not drugs.

1.) Giving Makes You Feel Good

A study conducted with toddlers and treats showed that it feels better to give your own treats away than to give from someone else’s source.

1.) Giving Makes You Feel Good

It doesn’t matter how much of your resources you spend on others, all giving makes you feel just as good.

2.) Giving Gives You Time

Paradoxically, giving your time away actually creates the illusion that you have more time.

3.) Giving Makes Others Feel Good

Helping people fosters feelings of gratitude, which is shown to contribute to life satisfaction.

4.) Giving Makes Others Give

Gratitude also contributes to more prosocial behavior, which creates my second favorite sort of chain, a giving chain.

5.) Giving Builds Relationships

Gratitude also builds trust in between you and the person you help.