Seven seriously good reasons why we choose to give
March 23 is Tenaka Day, when we celebrate in some meaningful way the anniversary of the day four years ago when we broke, bashed and hammered down the walls inside our office, symbolising the breakdown of barriers between us and so the uniting of the Tribe.
So, in the early hours of a Friday afternoon, we piled into a minibus amply stocked with care packages – a hot chicken meal, a piece of fruit and soft drink – and set off to load up on donation blankets.
Having done the giving, we want to share 7 good reasons why we should all be doing it more often.
Behind our choice of Tenaka Day activity is a sense of gratitude to each other, as well as for what we have and for the fact that we are able to give back. That’s something to celebrate.
Sometimes it was a lone guy walking along the side of the road; sometimes a group of people rummaging through a recycling cart; sometimes, the person we stopped at became a queue of hopefuls rushing in to share in the bounty. Seeing the surprise on someone’s face at being given something for nothing; the smile of satisfaction at having one meal you don’t have to scrounge for; the moment of relief on realising you’ll be a bit warmer tonight; that face makes it worthwhile all by itself. (See point 7.)
It’s a clever trick of nature that, though we don’t all have the same opportunities, we are compelled by a deep-rooted desire to help, to give. That giving is rewarded by a reaction in the brain: the release of the joy chemical, serotonin.
The jury’s out on altruism: can we, as humans, ever really do something good for no personal gain? That gorgeous natural serotonin release leaves little room for altruism. When giving feels this good, why would you need another reason?
It’s no secret that doing a good deed fills up your happiness bucket like precious little else. What comes, perhaps, as a surprise is how it easy it is to give. There are so many people who need your help that even the smallest gesture is appreciated. It demands nothing more than a bit of planning, a small cost and an hour or two.
There’s a sense of scratching the surface – it’s never enough – that drives you to start the next charitable initiative: when can we give again? How can we give more? You give yourself the giving bug, and you give others that bug, too. Before you know it we have millions of tiny humans doing tiny little giving things that add up to a whole lot of giving. That sounds like a world I want to be part of.
Happiness seems to be a little out of fashion these days, what with everyone realising it’s impossible to pursue and no-one having the patience to sit around and wait for it. But ask the experts (Buddhists, for one): compassion – having a good look around, genuinely seeing the suffering of others, and wanting to help – is the only way to experience happiness, because it gives you a chance to turn your focus away from your own troubles and look at someone else’s. It allows you to realise that ‘hang on, my shit’s not so bad… in fact, I’m a lucky son/daughter of a gun’.
We’d love to learn about your experiences of giving – what made you do it and what it did for you. Find us on Facebook and share away. Here’s to the givolution!