By Jessica Manfre, LMSW - #GivingTuesdayMilitary leader

Originally published in Military Spouse Magazine

Many people have probably heard the saying “It’s better to give than to receive,” especially from older family members in their lives.

There are many reasons behind the phrase, but one in particular that truly stands out is how being kinder and more generous will impact your own life and wellbeing.

That statement isn’t just a way to encourage philanthropy and compassion either; it’s backed by evidence based science. There have been multiple studies that have demonstrated the incredible power behind giving. The after effects of giving are actually felt even more strongly by the giver than the receiver. As a matter of fact – one 2016 study discovered that the giver gets an even bigger mood boost from doing something for someone else rather than themselves. Another study found decreased feelings of depression as well.

Giving does more than just boost those happy go lucky feelings inside, though. It literally lights up the brain like fireworks on a dark night! When a person performs an act of kindness, the brain releases oxytocin which is often referred to as the “love hormone”. This chemical in particular plays a large role in things like bonding and trust. The brain will then also release dopamine, creating what is known as the “helpers high.”

Living a kinder life can actually make a person healthier overall too. Leading a generous life has been linked to things like lower blood pressure, better heart health, reduced rates of dementia later on in life and can help you maintain your overall functional health as a person ages.

Here are some easy ways to get started in living a kinder and more generous life:

Volunteer your time

Implementing intentional acts of kindness and generosity in day to day living isn’t necessarily about money. By finding causes that are important to you personally, you can dive into giving your time which is invaluable. When people incorporate volunteerism into their lives they tend to have higher self-esteem, purpose and accomplishment. Here are some places that always need volunteers:

  • Humane societies
  • Retirement homes
  • Soup kitchens
  • Homeless shelters
  • Community centers
  • Youth sports
  • Big brother big sister programs
  • Nonprofit organizations serving the underprivileged

Clean up

This is an activity you can get your family and friends involved in. Pick a park in your area and spend a day picking up trash and cleaning it up. Not only will it give you all the good feels, but it will really plant your roots and give you that sense of belonging within your community.

Give blood

Every time you donate blood, you can impact up to three people! According to The American Red Cross, someone needs blood every two seconds. It is one thing that cannot be created in a lab, humans literally need others to donate blood in life threatening situations in order to actually survive. This is something you can do every eight weeks and create an amazing impact.

Become a pen pal

The world is suffering from the current COVID-19 pandemic. With quarantines and social distancing requirements, people are feeling more alone then ever. This website links you with different organizations where you can lend your pen to warming hearts and changing lives.

Find the need

Email your mayor and city officials. Make your impact right at home by first discovering what the needs are for your specific community. Is it coats for children? Set up a coat drive. Are your shelters running low on vital items? Help gather donations to fill their needs. Whatever your community may need, you may be able to make all the difference by raising your hand to help.

In the end, there are so many ways that everyone can implement kindness and generosity into their everyday lives without spending a penny! It’s so much more than money, it’s a lifestyle which has been proven to create more happiness, overall fulfillment and well-being. The first step is to commit to it. What are you waiting for? Just say yes – change starts with you!