It Is in Giving That We Receive Happiness

By , SparkPeople Blogger
For many of us this time of year brings the opportunity to help others. I am a true believer that when we give our time, talent or treasure to others we truly receive one of the greatest blessings in life. Giving back or helping those in need is what connects us to others and makes us happy and studies are proving this to be the case. It is truly what living is meant to be.

In just a few short days I will be celebrating my 4 year SparkVersary which means I have spent countless hours perusing the message boards. Over the course of four years I have seen complete strangers reach out to help others and what an amazing event it is to witness. Friendships are made and solidified as our members connect. And who can better to relate to our situation than others who have walked in similar shoes.

This past weekend I had the pleasure to participate in the White Rock Marathon Relay in Dallas with a handful of my high school classmates from 30 years ago. I had the last leg of the relay which meant waiting well over 3 hours after the race began for my turn to run. Fortunately, we had shuttle buses available to take us to our prospective baton exchange point. While sitting on the bus with other relay runners, I had the pleasure of chatting with four women. I was talking with a woman from New Mexico who was wearing a Team Lizzie shirt. She proceeded to tell me she was running for a foundation based out of Kearney, Nebraska--TEAM LIZZIE-- in honor of Lizzie Stratton a 14 year young lady who succumbed to a rare form of liver cancer in 2007. She spoke with such passion for this cause it actually made me wish I had a cause to run for.

In just a few short minutes there was a connection. And this woman was not alone in her quest to run to help others. There were teams running for Team in Training, Team Owen and many other great charities. It was so touching to see people running for a cause, other than just to finish a marathon, half-marathon or marathon relay that it has inspired me to find a charity for next year.

So how can we find happiness this holiday season?

Well, studies have confirmed that when we give money to help others, no matter how big or small the amount that we give, it makes us happy. So if you think dropping some spare change in the Salvation Army kettle doesn't matter, think again. Or reaching out to others in need on the message boards doesn't matter, think again. For many of us doing just a small deed to help others can make us happy and makes us feel good about ourselves. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the holidays than to find happiness in helping others. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!. May the gift of giving journey well beyond the holiday season.

Have you found that giving to others makes you happy? Have you discovered that your whole mood shifts just by offering a kind word or gesture to someone else?

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I always give to others... Not only do I smile they smile also.. Report
Great post! I find it to be joyful when I can give to others.
Lately we have been donating lots of needed items to a homeless shelter - sheets, comforters, towels, toiletries, coats, and so on. They need this so much more than others - and shelters for women are RARE around here! We seem to only think of men when addressing the homeless situation, but serious help is needed for women, too. This is a plea to all - think of these unfortunate people, many from abusive situations, mental problems, former addicts, when giving ... and they could always use more than just cash. Report
Well said! Giving of yourself from the heart is the true meaning of Christmas!! Report
I agree it is a joy to give, just seeing the look of happiness on people's faces, says alot for itself Report
I getting a blessing everytime I help someone. It doesn't always have to be monetary, assisting others with our time and goodness always returns a smile. A kind word can change a difficult moment in to a special time. Time is a precious gift always worthy of giving away when most needed. May each of you with giving hearts and helping hands receive a blessing this Christmas Season and in the coming New Year. Report
I give whole blood every 8-10 weeks which makes me happy! It makes me feel good that I have no idea how my gift will be used or for whom, but that it could save a life or make someone healthier. It's part of me that I give willingly. It is a sign for me that I am healthy enough to donate, too which makes me happy. At one time I had cancer a long time ago, and I was told I couldn't donate blood. Life insurance companies would deny me coverage and of course health plans wouldn't touch me. I find the ability to give blood is sweet revenge. Report
...and even those who are unable to give in a monetary way this year....any act of kindness goes a long way for both the giver and the receiver. Report
I find that the more I give the more I receive in the long run. Two of my goals for next year are to volunteer 100+ hours and to give $1 a day to non-profits I believe in. Report
We changed our 'secret santa' gift exchange with my co-workers. I brought up the suggestion of drawing names; purchasing and wrapping a gift for that person they you think he/she would have wanted or played with as a child; then we re-gifted to our local 'toy mountain' for needy children.

It felt so great ! And to watch my co-workers eyes light up when they opened a barbie doll; or some legos was incrediable.

I hope we can expand this to my whole work location next year. We are all so very blessed, those with health, careers; families; and friends. It is good to give back.

I try to live my life by helping anyone who comes across my path in need, if it is within my power; possible; does not negatively impact anyone else; and legal ! Report
When I give my time, I feel that I have helped the community. When I give money, I'm hoping I'm helping people. I always donate my gently used clean clothes to charity...especially recently, since I have lost 20 lbs. I am mentoring a person to help her improve her English and writing skills.
This year as in the past we baked lots of cookies to share with friends and family, we still had a lot left over, now not wanting to eat these delicious gem, we decided before hand to take them to Loaves and Fishes and group here in Sacramento, I volunteer at, they help the homeless. I am relly excited about doing this since sharing will bring a little something special to those who dont have a lot right now. Oh yes big smiles. Report
I love helping others and do so whenever I get the chance. I firmly believe that you "reap what you sow". Report
What a wonderful blog. I am not be able to give financially this year, but there are somany ways I can give back to others. I am very involved in my church activities. I sing in the choir, I am vice-chair of our board of directors, secretary of our worship ministry, and have been elected to a very high honor, that of serving as an Elder starting next year for a 3 year term.

I always try and compliment and encourage others. I love being a part of Spark so I can continue to be an encourager, which is what I believe my ministry is supposed to be. Spark has helped me reach my goad and maintain it for a year and a half now. It's my turn to give back. Report
thanks for the blog. I try to give of myself all year long, especially to those who need it the most, and not save it for this season. Report
I would much rather give then receive! If I can help someone or even make someone laugh or smile I feel so good inside! Report
Having PTSD, both Chronic and Major Depression, Agoraphobia, Seasonal Affective Disorder and both Panic and Anxiety syndromes, you would think that I was a candidate for help from the team Dealing with Depression.

Maybe, but the fact is that I am the Co-Founder of the team. About a year ago, I retired when my wife retired and I thought I would step back and let others of our leadership team run things.

What a horrible mistake. My depression reactivated, I found myself not wanting to leave my house or even get dressed. Visiting others became an activity I found really difficult to do because it activated my Anxiety syndrome.

After about a month, I found myself back on the team, but more as a contributor than the leader of the team. I still contribute to the team by reaching out to many of our team members, but I don't do it seven days a week. That made my wife happy.

It's very difficult for me to receive attention and help, but when I am able to give attention and help to others, I feel like the empty spaces inside me fill up and makes all of my mental health issues take a step back.

"It's better to give than receive" is heard mostly around the holidays. I strongly believe that it applies all year long. Report
This is a great blog! I've always tried to be helpful to others, opening doors for elderly people or helping them any way I can, and showing the respect they deserve. So often you see others that show NO respect at all! My hubbie and I go each year for the Toys for Tots motorcycle run, and we do donate to St. Judes (He's a cancer survivor!), sometimes not much but every little bit helps. I also like to help the kids for their schools. I do what I can when I can. Helping a neighbor when I can, mainly because it makes me feel good inside, and knowing that what I've done was the right thing to do. Seems like society today has lost what it is to be a "good neighbor" and sad to see such a wonderful thing lost. Report
Back when my husband and I were both employed we helped a lot of families. We gave money ---but the greatest joy was helping someone who needed something specific. we had a woman in our church who was on welfare raising 3 daughters. She chose to go to college--get her education and be able to provide for her family herself. We found a car, and several people helped us to get it ready---she learned to drive--and finished college.
That was 25 years ago---and she works at the local hospital and has for all those years. she speaks at the community college every year to women whose education is being paid to get off welfare. She tells them that it is a rewarding factor to be a single parent and have a good job to provide for your family. Report
Beginning this year, I'm making it a point to donate to charity. I decided this year to donate to my local SPCA, as I got a cat from there who has been a joy in my life. Report
I was very blessed to have been brought up in a loving family that was very giving. So, from early on, without knowing it at the time, it was just something natural for me to do. As I became older and realized the difference of giving or not, I felt better both mentally and physically when I gave. Giving isn't just monetary as others have stated, sometimes it is just a few kind words to a friend or a stranger. Bottom line is I treat everyone the way I pray others would treat my precious family, with love, kindness, respect, dignity, compassion and joy. In doing so, you will help when help is needed. Remember, it's up to each one of us to make it a great day! God Bless you all. Report
I volunteer on a regular basis. I also have worked for a senior business that pays you to volunteer your time at places that need you like the Salvation Army. I realize that may not really be volunteering but they get the work free and we get paid by the government to help places like that. I can always go back and volunteer my time when I want because they've seen me work before. I also go to a prison ministry which after being a victim myself I feel I'm giving back to the people who have hurt me. I heal myself that way too by forgiving. I also give to the Salvation Army when the bell rings and try to help the church. It feels good to give. Report
Have you found that giving to others makes you happy? Have you discovered that your whole mood shifts just by offering a kind word or gesture to someone else?
I have always givng without wanting anything in return. God has given us all a gift. Just being available for people in need has been a blessing since I'm not working I help out whomever or where ever I can, I guess being in the retail business years ago prepared me for whatever comes my way, I am grateful for seeing the joy of helping or giving to others My prayers go out to LADYFOLDER
we have experience the same hardship/disabllity for my husband it took 7 yrs before he got it. God will provide then need just ask. Thanks SP for asking this question and may the new year be wonderful for all. Merry Christmas ya'll healthy happy NEW YOU in the New year. Peace, Darlene Report
Giving makes a difference for me. For the last 8 years, I have been unable to find lucrative employment. I have had difficulty walking, and did not graduate from college, which have made the job search harder. 4 years ago, I was offered a position as a SCSEP volunteer. Pay was @$400 a month, which is a lot better than $0. I gained a lot of skills, and the non-profit offered me a position as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer. This pays a stipend of @ $800 a month, but is limited to three years. I just finished, and I am once again serving as a SCSEP volunteer at the same non-profit. I am unable to continue working full time, and the economy has limited the funding available. I am continually worrying about the paucity of my income, but I am happy because I am not hanging around the house all day, and I know my services are valued.
Yes, I am receiving some $ compensation for my service, but the rewards of service come when a client gives tearful thanks, or a spontaneous hug because I have made a difference for him or her. I have also learned to allow others to feel better about themselves through helping me. My physical therapist has graciously allowed me to use his gym and machines twice a week. His commitment to me helps keep me stronger and prevent some falls. I know because I fall once or twice a week now, but when a combination of my schedule and his hours due to a holiday prevented me from coming in for 2 weeks, I was falling every day. It took almost 2 months to regain what I lost in 2 weeks.
Yes, I have frustration at my poverty, and even more frustration that SS doesn't think I am disabled, or in need of supplemental income, but I am still able to help others. I am not suffering from depression. I just keep hanging in there and trying to grin and bear it through th physical pain.
And I will submit my 5th application for disability. . . . Report
Great blog! I canot afford to give much money, but I allways try to help someone in need. All i ask in return is to "Pay it Forward" I love helping people! Report
Giving money is great but giving your time is soo rewarding, both for the giver and the reciever. Just yesterday we had a chance to help a neighbor in need. We don.t have any extra money to give but it turned out he didn.t need money just help. It was a great experience for all of us. Report
I am a low income earner and find many charities only want money not help but I can only afford to help, I cannot give money. In the past I have given and hope to be able to do so again. Report
My greatest joy is helping others. It is on a very small scale but everyday, I look for an opportunity to help someone. Small things count for me: opening a door at the store for a stranger, assisting someone with something on a top shelf, a kind word or friendly smile at every encounter.
I'm the one that gets the rewards :) Report
I've been a bit depressed lately,and I am starting to think that one reason may be the fact that due to changes in health and finances,I haven't been reaching out to help others. I am working on doing what I can with what I have! Report
MADDANCER, check the Better Business Bureau about the charity before you donate. I like donating to different Catholic charities as they are obligated to use the money as you say, not to transfer it to another category, such as salaries. And they have the lowest upkeep of USA charities, or at least did in the past! Report
I have been training and racing with Team in Training for 10 years supporting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. There is definitely an entirely different level of satisfaction and accomplishment after I have completed a race in honor of those battling cancer. I also usually purchase gifts for an "adopted family" the last several Christmases. It feels good to give back. Report
I want my child to have a generous heart so I do my best to instill the giving spirit in her. We do our best to volunteer both our time and money for various organizations and fund raisers.

Our latest is knitting and crocheting hats and scarves for chemotherapy patients. My hairdresser hosts parties through the Cancer Society and teaches them to draw on eyebrows, do their makeup, care for a wig and tie scarves. Now at the end of the class they can take home a hat or scarf. She says that they have a blast trying them on.

My problem is when I feel that my "generosity" has been taken advantage of. For example: one very cold day my little girl and I were ringing the Salvation Army bell when out comes these 2 women, carts piled high with toys and one of them says "No, I didn't buy ______ because it was too expensive. I'll just put that on my Salvation Army list and they'll buy it for us and then I can get him all of the other things." Now mind you, what they were taking about was a toy that was well over $100. Is that what my daughter and I were out there ringing that bell for? So she could have an entire cart full of toys and an expensive $100+ toy too? Had a very hard time explaining that one to my very sharp daughter, who also picked up on the irony of it all when she would not be getting that toy because it was too expensive, yet we were out there ringing the bell for the "poor" people. "Aren't we poor too then Mommy?" Report
Someone asked for suggestions on charity organisations who are accountable & ethical.
The best one I found is Oxfam. They use their resources wisely to help build skills in communities in need through many different programs.
Here is the American website (I support Oxfam in Australia)

Growing up here in OZ my family supported St Vincent's or "Vinnies" and we were actively involved in all aspects of community care and advocacy.
As a little girl, my greatest thrill at this time of year was Carol singing in Elderly peoples homes - a tradition I plan to initiate with my son's class next year.
I am also in accord with comment 26, we could be giving our time, our smiles, our touch to many people all year long. Thanks Nancy, a timely blog! Report
the thing that I love the most, that makes me happiest and really feel good, is to be able to give something to others; sometimes things I make, other times something I've seen bought that made me instantly think of a certain person, and whenever I am able to help out a charity, I think this is part of the reason I love the Holiday Season so very much. Report
I believe in continuous giving or giving during non-holiday periods since the needs of the recipients continue way beyond the holiday that we are celebrating. That being said, every little bit helps and we should do what we are comfortable with doing whenever we can. Report
Giving is a wonderful thing to do. It is important, though, to actually look into the charities that you're sending the money to and make sure that you're actually comfortable with what that money will be used to do.

Some fairly popular charities have controversial or questionable practices or are poorly administrated.

The Salvation Army, for example, practices forms of discrimination that some people agree with and others find unacceptable. Unfortunately, (based on the stunned comments that come out whenever a particular incident happens to hit the news at least), many of the people who disagree with their practices are unaware of exactly what they're supporting.

There's nothing wrong with people who agree with them (or any other charity) supporting them. It's just best to be informed so that you don't end up supporting things that you would actually find objectionable. Report
It is such a blessing to give and help others in need. There is no better reward than to receive the joy you have after giving. Report
I have experienced first hand that giving makes you happier in the holiday season. I have donated my time, (sorting donations of clothing and items for families in need), selected a wish item from the Christmas tree, (then purchased the items on the tag to fulfill someone's wishes/needs), purchased cookies for a hospital fundraiser, (to purchase some new medical equipment needed) and just yesterday, donated some money to the Alzheimer's Association, (they will double my monetary donation) which my Grandmother was diagnosed with and died from. I feel fulfilled and happy and also very fortunate to be able to help others.
Merry Christmas!! Report
I am happiest when giving/doing something for others. I'm a teacher, so on my birthday, I get a small gift for my students! I do have to be careful, cause sometimes I over do.

Merry Christmas! Report
I have for years always dropped a dollar into every Salvation Army kettle I see. I also donate when available in my area Toys for Tots. I volunteer my time through out the year.
I do it ont in the spirit that it makes me happy but in the spirit that it will make some else happy or at least lessen their burden. Report
I have for years always dropped a dollar into every Salvation Army kettle I see. I also donate when available in my area Toys for Tots. I volunteer my time through out the year.
I do it ont in the spirit that it makes me happy but in the spirit that it will make some else happy or at least lessen their burden. Report
Giving of my time always leaves me happy. I'm not as good at giving of my money, as we really don't have much. So I usually feel a tiny bit of regret, even though I know they desperately need the money! So then I usually end up feeling guilty for feeling the regret, which just starts a whole annoying cycle! Report
It is more blessed to give than to receive (and I'm more comfortable being a giver).

Another great blog, Coach Nancy!

~ Happy Holidays ~ Report
i send boxes of snack food over to iraq for the troops to enjoy and they really appreciate it. give to those who give, some all.... Report
Giving is good for the heart. I feel so good when I do it. Report
My husband and I give regularly to and participate in causes we believe in. We don't always get a good feeling because it is hard work. We get satisfaction knowing that we are doing the right thing. We might not see immediate results, but we expect down the road to have good things happen. Report
I just love what number 26 had to say. Be helpful all year long, not just during the holidays. On my job I try to be cheerful all year long--some the teachers have noticed and have decided that they can be nice to the kids and the kids even respond --it was an eye opener. Be nice and it does come back to ya!!!! Report
Nancy, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the boundless generosity you shower on all of US! You're such a delight, the best example I've met here of someone who fully embodies The Spark! Here's to a Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy 2010 for you...with many miles logged and much change on the ground gleaned :) All the best! - Susan Report