Admit it, sometimes it feels like we live in a world of takers at the same time we live in a world where residents of Manchester and elsewhere want to make sure their “stuff” isn’t taken.
It’s easy enough to reach this outlook when we hear about all the cruel and sometimes unfair things taking place in the news.
Whether someone is living independently or receiving end of life care, there’s enough opportunity to learn what’s happening in the world and come away with the same conclusion: it’s terrible out there and you should feel terrible about it.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care like to remind and encourage clients and their family members that their view of life can influence and be influenced by so much of the life around them.
At its most basic, we all know that if you’re feeling miserable then the world can look pretty miserable. Things like poor sleep, problems with family or friends, diet, or even mental and physical health challenges can all influence our general view of things.
Taking the effort to improve some of these areas can pay off in dividends – more sleep, more exercise, perhaps therapy or medication can all work wonders.
Learn to give
Another area of life where we get back what we put into something is in the area of giving. There’s an old adage that it’s better to give than to receive, but this is only part of the equation: great value can be found in giving AND receiving, and it’s OK to do one or both.
Research into generosity/philanthropy/service has shown that people who give something to others often gets something back in return. This isn’t literal, of course, but more feelings of satisfaction and contentment knowing that you’re touching people’s lives personally.
For instance, people who volunteer at places like soup kitchens gain a sense of their community’s charitable needs; the scope of the local hungry/homeless situation and even get to know some of the recipients. They also can feel good knowing that they’re directly doing their part to help a pressing national problem.
Ilana Donna Arazie, a columnist at Psychology Today, described how she learned new ways of giving and receiving. This came from experiences volunteering to help seniors chronicle the highs and lows. Her original plan was to teach a group of seniors in her area how to tell stories visually.
But the simple experience of spending time with them and learning their histories was rewarding in itself, whether or not actual visual stories were actually created.
Arazie came away from the experience with new friends and good feelings about life, neither of which she expected when she offered to volunteer.
Why giving feels great
Abbott Laboratories, a provider of health products and health information, recently looked at the topic of giving and/or receiving and also concluded that both are valuable and have usefulness.
Giving is a socially accepted way of connecting with others. It doesn’t have to be actual tangible presents, like a wrapped package. It could be offering something of yourself like your time and your talents.
The ‘why you’re giving’ doesn’t necessarily matter – you could do it out of obligation, guilt, in return for a past gift, because you think it’s socially acceptable or the right thing to do. The psychology and social dynamics involved in “how you should feel?” or “should I give them something of equal value in return?” can be complex and complicated.
But the result of giving is often the same: you feel good and the person who you give something to is also expected to feel the same way. Likewise, if you’re the receiver, you may initially appreciate someone giving you something, before you start thinking of the whys.
Abbott also proposed the interesting theory that not only is it a good feeling when we think about others instead of only ourselves, but it may fulfill part of our biological nature. Essentially, the need and want to give and to receive could be a unique part of our human DNA.
While other animal species may occasionally help out a family member in need, such as a mother bear protecting her young ones, animals seem more focused on fulfilling their basic needs (trying to grab the food before everyone else), rather than taking the effort to make sure everyone gets a share or spontaneously handing out food as a treat to other peers but not taking any for ourselves.
Many humans, on the other hand, look for opportunities to give, such as holidays, special occasions, or simply being nice. And as much as some grumble about the cost and stress of the Christmas holidays, there are people who truly enjoy the opportunity to find ways to show they care.
This month is a perfect time to practice giving: July 15 is actually National Give Something Away Day, an opportunity to test the theory whether it feels better to give or receive