Giving Back Feels Good

That headline is probably not news to you. At some point in your personal or professional life, you’ve likely had the opportunity to give back to an individual or an organization and subsequently experienced an internal benefit.

This isn’t just some random-acts-of-kindness glow. It’s legit science. In fact, there are numerous studies that have shown that giving money or time to others will put a bigger smile on your face than spending it on yourself.

A Harvard Business School professor conducted a study and demonstrated that regardless of income, there was a direct positive correlation between Americans that spent their money on others and their personal happiness.

So as the temperature gets cooler and the holiday season is drawing near, there’s no better time than now to skip buying more stuff for yourself and think about how you are going to give to others. Here are some of my favorite suggestions that put you in direct contact with the recipient so you can experience their reaction:

At JP, we send out birthday cards and make a donation in the recipients name to our charity of choice.
At JP, we send out birthday cards and make a donation in the recipients’ name to our charity of choice.

• For the hard-to-shop-for friend or family member, make a donation in their name to a charity you know they support. Ask the organization for a thank you letter made out to your friend or family member and wrap that up with a bow.

• Serve a meal at a local soup kitchen or distribute bags for a local food bank and do so with a smile while you look into the recipients’ eyes.

• Buy holiday gifts for a family that might not otherwise receive them and actually deliver them to their house; partner with a local agency that does this so that you know what the family needs.

• Standing in line at the local coffee shop, buy the person in front of you their coffee. It’s much more fun to interrupt their transaction and watch their face versus buying for the car behind you in the drive-thru.

Instead of making your wish list for gifts you want this holiday season, how about making a list of gestures you can make that will not only make a difference, but will make you feel good, too. It really is just one simple act of kindness. Start today.

Jane Olvera Quebe, President