Most of us enjoy receiving gifts, as long as it is not the hand knitted jumper with sleeves an orangutan would turn up (mine was green) and its completely natural for the recipient to feel a sense of gratitude. But can we really gain anything from the giving of gifts or time, or does this just make up poor in both money and time?
Why Do Good Things Happen to Good People?
Well, studies have found that the giving of gifts to someone else, can lift the giver's happiness more than if they had spent it on themselves. This was despite the prediction from the giver, that spending money on themselves, would make them feel happier. A wide range of research has linked forms of generosity to better health. In the book, Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen Post reports that giving to others has been shown to increase health. It has been suggested by researchers that one reason giving may improve physical health and longevity is by decreasing stress, which is often associated with a variety of health problems.
Promote Cooperation and Social Connection
Giving is also said to promote cooperation and social connection. Therefore, when you give, you’re far more likely to get back. When you give to others, your generosity is likely to be rewarded by others down the line—sometimes by the person you gave it to, but sometimes by someone else. The exchanges promote a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to others, this can be in our social lives or in our businesses and networking. Research has shown that having positive social interactions is central to good mental and physical health. In his Book Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, John Cacioppo writes “The more extensive the reciprocal altruism born of social connection . . . the greater the advance toward health, wealth, and happiness.”
Build Stronger Networks
So whether you buy gifts for your friends, family or staff, branded gifts for your clients or volunteer your time to help others. Your giving will not leave you poor and should be thought of as so much more than just a year-end chore. It may help you build stronger networks and social connections and it may even jump start a cascade of generosity. As a result you should not be surprised if you find yourself benefiting from much happiness in the process, making you richer in more ways that one.