After the mighty purchasing season that is Christmas, many gifts now can replace our older belongings. In 2018 many charity stores have reported that they will receive between 75,000 and 100,000 kilograms of donations in January alone post the Christmas season. During this time their volunteers can barely keep up with the sorting process. It’s no wonder our charity stores are brimming with second-hand treasure. These organisations help to reduce items that would end up in landfill and assist the most vulnerable in our communities. Giving to charity makes us feel empowered by knowing we are helping others. Brain activity is heightened when we give and registers more pleasure than actually receiving.
A study conducted by William Harbaugh, a Professor of Economics at the University of Oregon, calls this a ‘warm glow’. When we have a strong social conscience we feel compelled to help others where we can. By giving we are able to reflect our personal values through charitable acts which can help to increase our self-esteem and self-perception. Setting a positive example of giving will have a positive impact on others as generosity has the power to be contagious. Particularly with our children when they experience the act of giving at a younger age they will be natural givers as adults. Inspiring others to give can help to strengthen community bonds and even the smallest acts can make a big difference. One of the almost always positive human behaviours is altruism. When we behave in an altruistic way we are seeking to bring benefit to others by assisting them without requiring anything in return. By helping others in this way we seek no apparent gain or potential cost to ourselves.
Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘Unselfish acts are the real miracles out of which all the reported miracles grow.’ Somebody who donates time volunteering with an organisation or at an institution,gives blood or rescues somebody are all displaying acts of altruism. We often take many forms of altruism for granted in our daily lives. Chivalrous acts of opening doors, giving somebody on the street directions, or even making someone feel comfortable in a social situation can all be considered as altruistic behaviours. Australians are big givers, according to a study done by the Giving Australia project. They found that in 2006 13.4 million adults, which is around eighty-seven percent of all adults, gave $5.7 billion dollars to not- for-profit and private organisations in one year. This was more than given by adults in the United Kingdom and Canada but less than half given by adults in the United States.
Being altruistic can fill us with positive emotions and a feeling of empowerment. When we help without expecting anything in return we can, however, receive intangible pro-social rewards. When others in our social groups acknowledge our good deeds we are treated to a self-esteem boost and have others view us in a favourable light. This alone can be enough motivation to lend a helping hand. A positive way to assist our friends, family and local community members may be to offer to share our particular set of skills. Offer to assist someone with something you are good at, like gardening, cooking or setting up a social media page. We all have something to offer, no matter how small. Offer to collect friends’ children from school or take your neighbour’s dog for a walk. Share your Rightsizing experience with another person. Random acts of kindness in our communities restore our hope for humanity and can make you feel a part of something bigger than our own lives. This type of behaviour has the magical power of being reciprocated and repeated. Giving is a powerful act that can benefit all that are involved. Offer your assistance when you can, donate your time, your excess and your experiences with others to create a life of enrichment that is intentional and full of meaningful connections.
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