In today’s world where days turn into nights faster and everyone seems to be running towards achieving some materialistic goals, the power of employing softer sides of humanity are often underestimated. Employing empathy, giving a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all have the potential to turn a life around.
But why it feels good to give back? While it does help in making the world a better place, it can also help the giver by enhancing health, happiness and longevity. Giving bestows many benefits. It dissolves negative feelings of anger and jealousy and evokes happiness, which is itself a powerfully healing and beneficial emotion. This fosters kindness and generosity.
Studies show that the act of helping others can lower blood pressure, combat loneliness and depression, and reduce chronic pain and stress, all of which can help boost the individual’s immune system, fight off disease and promote longer life. Research also reveal that volunteering can help boost one’s confidence, self-esteem and sense of purpose and meaning in life. Moreover, acting as an example for others can result in a positive ripple effect of kindness throughout one’s surroundings.
Due to its many advantages for the humanity at large, religions across the globe attach great importance to the act of giving and kindness by linking its benefits to the life hereafter. It is interesting to note that if we are not promised rewards in the life hereafter, will we still opt for giving and kindness? In my view giving help us access that huge energy through which God created humans. Giving taps into the deepest parts of our soul and represents the ultimate reflection of our access to God.
Besides having potential positive effects, there are challenges too when volunteerism is handled at an organization level. Alignment of personal objectives of several volunteers with the overall objectives of non-profit entities is not easy. Volunteering makes people feel validated, giving them the power to change situations themselves. We support and celebrate such altruistic inclinations, however, circumstances such as the socioeconomic landscape, devious agents, and even our own intentions can conspire to inadvertently harm the people and communities which volunteers are helping. The pressure to impress others and seek fame, time commitments and ethical situations are the very essence of giving a volunteer faces. So while establishing an act of giving, a volunteer must also endeavor to make it process enabled and sustainable rather than individual driven. It should be there to last and not vanish once we are not there.
The mental health benefits of giving are very strong in making us happier and healthier and can even stimulate the generosity of those around us. But none of these benefits will come to is if we voluntarily give either in order to control others, or, because we want to selfishly show off, or we try to stop others who are simply contributing more. The act of giving if resulting in resentment, anger and disappointment is nothing but exhibit of one’s weak character and takes away the true spirit and joy of giving.
The power of Giving is instantaneous, continuous and eternal.