This summer, my eight-year-old daughter discovered entrepreneurship. She spent weeks sewing a line of bandannas, ties, and bow ties for dogs and then set up a one-day pop-up shop. Sales were brisk and excitedly walked away with money to save and spend.
In the fall, with the holiday season approaching, she decided to start selling handmade, one-of-a-kind button earrings made with up-cycled fabric. But this time, before she got too far into the process, we talked about how she could make money AND give back to the community. In the end, she decided to give 50% of the proceeds to a local women’s shelter. So far, she’s raised about $200 for this local organization and plans on ramping up production so she can donate more. With this approach, she is learning the greatest lesson, and that is: To give is great.
Endless research studies have proven the benefits of giving. Stuff, experiences, time together, volunteer hours at a shelter, donations to the food bank—all these things count as giving.
Let’s look at a few ways why everyone benefits from extending kindness to others.
Generosity Increases Happiness.
There’s something really satisfying about seeing a loved one unwrap a gift and squeal with excitement. We have the same kinds of reactions when we give to organizations who help those in need.
When you stop to think about it, generous behaviour—giving gifts, donating money to a charity or volunteering time for a non-profit—is costly. But most of us do it anyway. Why? Research shows that giving makes us far happier than receiving because this leads to a release of oxytocin in our brain—the hormone that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection to others.
Giving Benefits Your Health
Studies reveal other incredible physiological benefits to giving. One from the University of California Berkeley shows that elders who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent more likely to live longer than people who didn’t volunteer. Another from John Hopkins University showed lower blood pressure for candidates who provided social support to others. Scientists suggest that giving improves physical health and longevity because it lowers stress, a harbinger for other health problems. Nothing relieves stress better than a meaningful connection to another person or community!
Altruism Leads to Cooperation and Social Connection
You shouldn’t give with the expectation to get something in return but have you noticed that’s what often happens? Sociologists Brent Simpson and Robb Willer have suggested that your generosity will likely be rewarded down the line—sometimes by the person you gave to, sometimes by someone else. They called this exchange “reciprocal altruism” and it emerges from social connections.
Interestingly, when we give to others, we feel closer to others. In her book “The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want”, Sonja Lyubomirsky says that being kind and generous help you perceive others more positively. In other words, when we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them. And that leads to a more compassionate community.
Goodwill Is Contagious
Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge from 2014? It was the first viral charity challenge and helped the ALS Association raise $115 million. It was a viral success, in part, because it spurred a ripple effect of generosity throughout the world.
A joint study between researchers at the University of California and Harvard revealed that when one person behaves generously, others are inspired to behave generously too. California’s Centre for Neuroeconomics Studies confirmed it: generous people who are on an oxytocin high (refer back to #1 above), can jumpstart a “virtuous circle”, where their behaviour can trigger someone else’s kind acts. Cool, right?
On the heels of #GivingTuesday, we’re reminded of this quote from Anne Frank:
“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
And so we’re reaching out to you, dear readers, with a proposition. But first, a little story. In the interest of giving back, we thought we’d give away our “ugly duckling” shampoo bars—the ones that aren’t as pretty but work just as well—to shelters. But one of our customers suggested an idea we liked much better. So this week, when you purchase our ugly duckling shampoo bars we’ll use the proceeds to put together gift baskets for a women’s shelter which will include laundry powder, toothbrushes, bar soaps, shaving bars, shampoo, conditioner, chewpaste, and floss. Are you with us?
Thanks for continuing to support our business and our goal to make the world a little more connected - everything touches everything else.
Keep being kind,
- Chantal + team etee