We all know how great it feels to receive gifts. However, the joy of getting is short-lived. Our lives are richer when we share, and that great inner joy comes from helping others to better their lives.
Truly giving from the heart fills our life with joy and nourishes our soul. Giving provides an intrinsic reward that’s far more valuable than the gift.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, “To find yourself, lose yourself in the service of others.” Giving takes us out of ourselves and allows us to expand beyond earthly limitations. True joy lies in the act of giving without an expectation of receiving something in return.
Academic research and thousands of years of human history confirm that achieving meaning, fulfillment, and happiness in life comes from making others happy, and not from being self-centered.
Mother Teresa is a famous example. She found fulfillment in giving of herself to others. She helped change the expression on dying people’s faces from distress and fear to calmness and serenity. She made their undeniable pain a little easier to bear.
Why give? When people are asked why they give, the readiest answers include: God wants me to; I feel better about myself; others need, and I have; I want to share; it’s only right.
The question I would ask is how did you feel? I imagine you felt very pleased with yourself—and happy inside. It has been my experience that when we’re focused on giving to others, we’re less likely to become consumed by our own concerns and challenges.
Giving provides an opportunity to look beyond our own worlds and see the bigger picture. A great perspective can be achieved by stepping out of our own world and venturing into the world of other people. Our worries and challenges may not seem as significant when compared to other people’s situations.
The act of giving kindles self-esteem and brings happiness. Scientists have discovered that happiness is related to how much gratitude we show.
After several years of soul searching, I discovered that my unhappiness was due to my want for things to fill the void of loneliness. My search for inner happiness led me towards gratitude. During this process of self-realization, I also discovered the purpose of living. Yes, I believe that giving thanks makes us happier. But don’t take my word for it—try it out for yourself.
The power of giving: Giving is one of the best investments we can make toward achieving genuine happiness. True giving comes from the heart, with no expectation of reciprocation. We’ll find that the more we give, the more we’ll receive.
The power of giving is manifested in the kindness and generosity that we bestow on someone else.
When we give to another unselfishly, the vibrational energy emitting from our subconscious is at its strongest. The power of giving, according to neuroscience, is that it feels good. A Chinese proverb says: “If you always give, you will always have.”
Famous American author and management expert, Ken Blanchard, declared “The more I give away, the more comes back.”
If we find ourselves feeling unhappy, we should try making someone else happy and see what happens. If we’re feeling empty and unfulfilled, we should try doing some meaningful and worthwhile work and see how we feel.
The catch is that we must do this work with passion and enthusiasm. There are many organizations, institutions, and people who are engaged in exemplary works of giving.
Narayanan Krishnan is a management graduate from Madurai, India who gave up his career as chef with a five-star hotel when he saw a man so hungry that he was feeding on his own excrement. From there on, Krishnan started his noble initiative to feed thousands of destitute and homeless people in his state—free of cost.
Another example of giving is Sanjit “Bunker” Roy, founder of the Barefoot College. Since graduating from college in 1965, Mr. Roy has committed his life to serving the poor and helping rural communities become self-sufficient. The Barefoot College education program encourages learning-by-doing, such as training grandmothers from Africa and the Himalayan region to be solar engineers so they can bring electricity to their remote villages.
It’s the joy and love that we extend to others that brings true happiness or union with God.
When we give, we reap the joy of seeing a bright smile, laughter, tears of joy, and gratitude for life. We know that if people give just a little more—of their time, skills, knowledge, wisdom, compassion, wealth and love—the world would be a more peaceful and healthier place. The rewards of giving are priceless.
If we want to have happiness, we need to give happiness. If we want love, we need to give love. It is only in giving that we receive.
No matter what our circumstances in life, we have the ability to give. I encourage all to look for opportunities where we can give and help others. The gift of joy will come to us when we give of ourselves to others. That’s what life is all about. Let’s practice and commit our lives to giving joy. Try it! It works!
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Editorial Assistant: Todd Otten/ Editor: Jenna Penielle Lyons
Photo: Courtesy of the author