One of the biggest resistances I hear from people who have the intention of giving more generously or volunteering to worthy causes is that they just don’t have the time!
Time is our most precious resource and while most of us feel comfortable that we are doing our part through charitable donations and sponsorship — how many of us are actually willing to give away our time to make a difference?
I came across this very dilemma myself just a month ago, when it came to the time of year in our household when we would usually choose which Charity to give to in time for Christmas. While we are mindful of choosing causes that will provide year-round and not just for the holidays (e.g. a well in a rural area or helping a family start a business), as I thought about how I would explain the concept of giving to my 2 year old — what we were doing in terms of giving just didn’t seem enough to mean something.
We realised that for our toddler to understand what giving was all about — she really had to experience this first hand. Giving needed to be as exciting as Birthday parties, opening presents and meeting Santa Claus! It needed to have the thrill of having a clear run at the candy basket while your parents weren’t looking! And so inspired by our 2 year old and to teach her the meaning of giving, we created a pay it forward mission that is helping people all over the world give in a way that feels effortless and enjoyable.
You see, giving isn’t a lesson to be taught but a behavior to be cultivated in both children and adults, so that it becomes a normal part of the week — just like going shopping, walking the dog or taking children to their swimming/soccer practice.
When you think of all the things that go viral or are popular in the world — Pokemon Go, Louis Vuitton Bags and the endless cat videos, what they all have in common is that they make people feel good and part of a community that shares a common interest!
And so we decided it was time to make giving as addictive as Pokemon Go because giving doesn’t just help others it helps us too!
There have been many studies over the years from institutions such as Harvard and Berkeley to the University of Michigan, on the benefits of giving for both the recipient and the giver.
Researchers at the National Institute of Health state that giving has shown to activate the mesolimbic pathway in the person giving, also known as the reward center of the brain, which in turns releases endorphins (our feel good hormones) and creates a natural high.
And just like drugs — the more we feel this natural high the more addictive it becomes, but in this case having a positive effect on society as giving also increases social connection and cooperation.
Studies have also shown the health benefits of giving to be:
So the next time you need a pick me up, a boost in self-esteem or need to reduce your stress levels — collect your nearest and dearest and go for a round of Giv-ing, just as we have pledged to do each weekend with our Pay It Forward mission!
We sometimes live under the illusion that giving has to be time consuming and involve a large monetary element to have any impact, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
It can be the simplest acts of kindness that create a ripple effect which can cause great change in the world and all while including all of the family. The experience of giving is something even a small child can appreciate and it’s something that needs to be encouraged both for their own well-being as well as that of society.
I look forward to the day when I hear the following as a normal exchange:
“What are you doing this weekend?”
“We’re going GIVING!”
Originally published at medium.com