It feels good to give back and lift the people around us up. When we give, we’re reminded that we have the power to do good. More than that, it provides us with crucial moments of vulnerability that allow compassion to take over and lift our spirits.
We don’t spend a whole lot of time focusing on the spiritual bucket on this website. We tend to apply more focus on our personal relationships, businesses, jobs, finances, and physical health. But the truth is, that a person’s spiritual life is one that spills into each of the other buckets of our lives. And that makes it one of the most important areas of our life–if not the most important.
Our spiritual life holds an incredible influence over how we tackle everyday problems. When everything’s right at home, we feel free to go out in the world without limitations. When we feel off-kilter, our problems seem to compound and cause us to dwell on victim hood and shy away from accountability.
Let’s dive in to a few of the ways the spiritual exercise of giving spills into other areas of our lives. Then we’ll talk about the best thing you can do to help you give more and with a greater impact.
Giving Makes Us Happy
After conducting a survey of over 630 Americans, researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada had an interesting thought. Money by itself doesn’t provide happiness, but spending it might.
To test their hypothesis, they measured the happiness and spending habits of a small group of employees before and after receiving a profit sharing check from their company. Their findings were in line with their thinking. Those who had spent their bonus on other people received a significant boost of happiness.
There’s a reason why we associate the holiday season with “good spirit” and “cheer”. We’re happier when we give to others than when we treat ourselves. And the benefits don’t appear to be impacted by whether or not the giving came out of genuine goodwill or responsibility.
The same researchers followed up their small study with another, and this time decided to give people money with instructions on how to spend it. One group was given either $5 or $20 and told to spend it on a bill, an expense, or to simply treat themselves to a gift by the end of the day. The other group was given the same amount of money and told to spend it on others.
Again, those who spent money on others experienced a significant boost in their happiness.
Something happens when we give to others. We feel more connected to our community, and we see the impact we can have when we work for something greater than just ourselves. When we learn to give, incredible changes can start to work on the inside.
In one study, researchers found that widows who provided support to other widows were less likely to develop depression over a year later. They found this to be true even if they were receiving support themselves.
Crazy, right? We definitely thought so. The implications here could be massive. It might mean that the best way to help ourselves is sometimes to start by helping others.
It makes sense when you think about it, too. When we help someone else through a tough time, it gives us a lot of time to reflect about our own experiences. It’s kind of like the old adage that “the best way to learn something is to teach it.”
To recap: your spiritual life is foundational and deserves your attention, and giving is one of the best ways to nourish it. Not only does giving boost your spiritual life, but its benefits stretch into other areas of your life, improving your mental and physical health.