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What Do You Get From Giving?

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By Margaret Wachholz

Why do people give?  Compassion, love, duty, guilt?  What are the motivators that prompt us to give of our time, our money & our energy?  A 2010 study found “people experienced happier moods, when they gave more money away—but only if they had a choice about how much to give.” It is often the giver – not the receiver, who reaps the biggest payback by volunteering & giving, making virtue truly its own reward. Once we asked a member of our church to help show us how to solder copper plumbing -that made my husband feel good as he could see it also gave this elder a sense of purpose as well.

How do you begin?  I love military training because it does not box you into a certain role; everyone in the US military knows how to clean a toilet.  No matter how many promotions a soldier receives, he will often end up scrubbing a toilet.  My husband is the king of cleaning toilets.  This true service of cleaning is not about what my soldier has to offer or who he is.  It is about being available, willing & open to those in need (& humbly understanding that we are all in this together and nobody goes home until the latrines are clean!) Mother Theresa said, “We can do no great things, only small thing with great love.”

Let the needs of people you encounter dictate the best way to give, whether it is someone who could use some emotional support or a colleague who needs a lift.

Every social catastrophe or crime we hear about is not yet another sign that the world is beyond saving.  We are in control & have choice in our response to the pandering of the media.  Know the facts, watch with a different perspective & discern how to use your resources & time.

Our world matters. Reach beyond & widen your scope to send a message of hope, faith & kindness, is one’s charge.  Who in your community would benefit from your attention & time?  Connect with your community – teenagers, elderly, those in prison, or the sick.  Take a class with NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness), share your voice, pick up listening techniques. Get excited about something you would love to do.  Volunteering has a powerful impact on the duration & quality of your life.

The Giver receives more than a passing great moment; your actions will be better aligned with your values & your health.  And getting more grounded will deepen your relationships with your community, plus you’ll have a very clean toilet and bathroom.

Margaret Wachholz is the campus marketing director at Woodbury Senior Living.

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