In a 2017 interview, Denzel Washington, a legendary actor and philanthropist, discussed his views of what really matters in life; including the importance of family, legacy, and giving back. To emphasize the importance of giving, he made the statement, “You will never see a U-haul behind a hearse. Life isn’t about what you have, but what you do with what you have.”
There is power in giving! Whether you have much to give or only a little, investing your resources into someone else can change lives. I’m not just talking about simply feeling good about yourself (although that helps for sure!) There are studies that show when a person gives, areas of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust are activated and create a positive impact; and not just for the recipient, but also for the giver.
Ways to Give Back
Often the first thought of many people when it comes to giving is through financial means, however this is only one of the many options when it comes to helping those in need. Other ways of giving that have impact on those around us include:
Giving of our time
Whether volunteering at a local food bank or mentoring kids at a youth center, you can have an impact simply by committing a few hours a month to an organization in your community.
Giving of our abilities/expertise
We all have skills and abilities that can be used to help out others – ranging from being a professional providing pro-bono services to a client, to a teen helping a peer with their Math homework.
Giving of our possessions
Many organizations accept a variety of items – from clothes to furniture to vehicles. People are often amazed at the amount of “stuff” they have accumulated and they no longer use or have forgotten that they even had!
There are benefits that extend beyond giving, for both the giver and receiver; everyone is impacted by a mindset of service and generosity. Giving turns our focus from inward to outward. Giving allows us to connect with those around us on a more personal level. Giving demonstrates that we care and are here to support others.
Most importantly, giving isn’t an option for only the select few; we all have something that we can give, whether it be money, time, or expertise. I want to encourage you to take inventory of what or how you can meet a need that exists in your community. Then, give generously, whatever that entails. You never know how someone’s life will change for the better!
Novotney, Amy (December 9, 2022). What happens in your brain when you give a gift?, American Psychological Association.