“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
~ Winston Churchill
Acts of generosity, such as giving your time, talent or resources, and expecting nothing in return, have been proven to be good for our health.Generous individuals are personally more fulfilled, happier and more peaceful within themselves, not to mention more productive at home and in the workplace. In fact, as reported by a recent study by the University of California, generous individuals live a longer, healthier life.
Pay it Forward
Research at the University verified that generosity begets generosity – in other words, it spreads and transfers, and has a pay-it-forward effect of several degrees of separation. The individual directly affected by your generosity will also act more generously toward others for a significant amount of time.
Generous people have an upper-hand when it comes to health. Those who are generous often feel grateful as a permanent state of being. People who remain mindfully thankful, rather than those who choose it as a temporary state of mind, have been proven to engage in healthier behaviors, have a stronger immune system, are more able to relax and have decreased rates of disease.
Pay Attention to Stressors
There are biological reasons why negativity is easier than gratitude, hence why it is an effort to become mindful of your grateful state of mind. Our brains are wired to pay attention to stressors, to heed our survival instincts, paying more attention to things that could be potentially harmful to us. In our ever-changing world where social media is becoming an increasingly significant part of our day, this is worsened and therefore makes it even more difficult to focus on a mindset of thankfulness and calm.
Cultivate a Healthy Mindset
But cultivating a mindset of gratitude and generosity is possible and is one of the easiest, most controllable things you can do for your health. Take a moment to reflect upon ways in which you can express generosity in your own life.
Write it Down
A Gratitude Journal (a small notebook that you can keep in your purse or pocket, or even as a “note” on your smartphone) is a great way to express gratitude: it offers an easy and appealing place to write down and recall the things in your life for which you are most grateful, which research has shown is a key ingredient of happiness and productivity.
Some people turn this into a daily practice, others write letters on occasions where they feel extreme gratitude and some people perform random acts of kindness as a way to boost both their own sense of gratitude as well as foster it in others.
Take the time to be grateful and generous today. Give back to yourself and then turn it outwardly towards others. You will find that the person who ends up gaining the greatest benefit from you being generous may, in fact, be you!