Is giving selfish?
The answer isn’t all that straight-forward. In fact, it’s kind of complicated. And, as with many situations, often it comes down to: It depends.
Numerous studies over the past several decades (yes, decades) reference “the reciprocal benefits of giving.” The bottom line from all of the research boils down to this: We feel good when we give.
Now comes the nuance –
There are some people who give for the sake of being noticed for giving. They want their giving to be recognized, acknowledged, and praised. It’s then that the good feelings are generated.
Others give, knowing that in so doing, they have helped the other person in some way. The feeling good is an internal acknowledgment.
We often don’t hear directly from those who give. The point here is that when your values point you to giving back or lifting someone else, you just do that.
Values can be learned and adopted. Our conditions do change us and even recent research from Bleidorn and Hopwood, et al, out of UC Davis (American Psychologist, Dec 2019) notes that personalities can, and do, change with persistent intervention. That is, as noted, our conditions change us. And we can choose to change our conditions.
The Grinch is a great metaphor for this. While he was frustrated by seeing gift giving and assumed that this was the cause of the joy felt by others, he learned that it wasn’t the gifts that made the difference. It was the connection that created the joy.
This is foundational to the #StartsWithOne movement which moves beyond “random acts” of kindness and toward being Deliberately, Actively, Positively™ uplifting. Give through connecting and rehumanizing. And yes, I just bounced from this month’s academic research to a cartoon figure from 1966. Glad you’re still with me!
And so, as we all figure out what this season means to each of us, it’s time to reflect just a little. You can feel good about your presents. Or you can feel good about your presence. Or both.
What you give does make a difference in others’ lives and it makes a Significant impact when you choose to give in a way that is meaningful to the other.
When you know that there will be a positive effect, you feel good. Is that selfish?
Nope, you’re allowed to feel good knowing that you’re doing good.
Enjoy the holidays knowing that.
And, step into the New Year (and new decade) with a deliberate focus of rehumanizing those you come in contact with. Smile, breathe, relax the tension in your jaw and around your eyes. You know… that’s something you can give to others that you can feel good about. The relaxed, present YOU.
Give from your heart.
See you here next week!
In the meantime, there are two things to check out:
Keep Making Your Magic!
~ Dr P ~