3 Steps to Give Back
“It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” — Mother Teresa
“Giving” implies putting something out into the world. Receiving implies obtaining something in it. As a society we often give, but most of the time it comes with the expectation of receiving something in return. Even if that’s simple recognition of a pat on the back. We enjoy feeling needed. But this common mindset creates a misguided intention behind giving and often snowballs into a toxic giving mindset.
That is not to say that you won’t get anything from giving. The natural benefits of giving can vary between making us feel happy, being good for our health, and/or evoking gratitude. Science shows that giving activates the part of the brain that makes you feel pleasure. Upon giving, our oxytocin levels are raised. The higher your levels, the more you’re likely to give.
Giving has been proven to decrease blood pressure and reduce stress, as well as promote social connection. The butterfly effect can be seen when someone gives, with generosity continuing down the line and beyond. Putting some good back into the world has a monumental impact.
Giving does not always mean financial resources or huge amounts of time either.
Here are a few quick and free things you can give that still have the ability to create a huge impact:
Giving a smile
Giving a kind word or encouragement
Giving good thoughts or prayers
How can you be more successful at giving?
If you do not already “give” in your life, it can seem daunting to start as there are so many directions you could go. It helps to find a cause that you care about. Whether that be homelessness, animal shelters, gun control, LGBTQ+ rights, mental health, veterans, the arts, or another cause. If you already care about the cause, you will be less inclined to selfishly give. If you have the resources and want to jump both feet in, go ahead! But if your giving looks like $1 a month donating to a charity, or giving your time every 6 months to help at a soup kitchen, don’t discount your giving as less-than. Any act of selfless giving is still giving. If you can’t find a cause and still feel lost, take a look around. You’re sure to see someone else giving when you open your eyes and this could be the inspiration you need to spark your giving.
Sometimes in order to give selflessly, you need to give to yourself first to make sure you’re in the right mindset. Maybe that means you take a nap, quiet your phone, ask for help, or just look after yourself. You can give even more when you feel grounded.
3 Steps to Give Back:
Find a cause that you want to be part of. You will have the right intentions if you genuinely care about the cause.
Keep realistic expectations for yourself. Do you have time or money or social media? What way can you best give in your current situation/circumstance? You could donate, give your time to volunteer, verbally talk about a cause, share it on social media to build awareness, or a combination! There is no one way to give back.
Take action and give back! Now keep going. Build momentum. Do it again and again and again to help continue the butterfly effect of giving and spread generosity.
Remember, giving can be something as small as a smile. Giving has the power to change someone’s day, year, or even life, in unfathomable ways. Let’s all work together to give back however we can.