“Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment.” – Tony Robbins
Did you know that research published to date hasn’t found a strong link between wealth and happiness? After accounting for basic needs (food, shelter, and money for essentials), wealth has a relatively small effect on well-being.
In a study undertaken at the University of British Columbia, Professor Elizabeth Dunn observed a much stronger correlation between positive emotions from giving money away than spending it. Interestingly, people with less money derived more happiness from giving money to charity.
And it’s not just the giving of money that makes people feel loved. Giving of one’s time and effort tends to create similar feelings of love happiness – both for the giver and recipient(s).
After researching data from 40 published papers, volunteers “…had a lower risk of death than non-volunteers. In addition, volunteers had lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being.”
You are probably thinking: What in the heck do these research findings have to do with the article’s topic?
Simply this: giving – of money, time, or resources – is an exceptionally powerful act, especially when viewed from another’s perspective.
Some of the history’s most admired people are also among the most selfless. Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, Buddha, Rosa Parks, and Princess Diana are just a few names that come to mind.
Countless numbers of others have made a lasting impression through giving – and have, in turn, received reciprocation of their love and kindness. In this article, we discuss ways in which we all can give, which (incidentally) draws love and admiration of others.
Here are 11 gifts we can give to feel ‘truly loved’ in return:
1. The gift of acceptance
There is perhaps no greater gift we can give than that of acceptance. George Orwell, one of the greatest writers of all time, once said: “Happiness can exist only in acceptance.”
Acceptance is not necessarily agreement. We can disagree with someone about something while still accepting each other’s humanity; maintaining both our dignity and theirs.
Can you imagine a world where we all just accepted each other? It would inevitably look much different than it does today.
2. The gift of freedom
The gift of freedom can be interpreted in numerous ways. The founders of the United States (“Founding Fathers”) viewed individual freedom as a sacred, inalienable right – something worth defending at all costs.
In truth, every living, breathing soul has the right to personal freedom provided that such liberties don’t harm anyone else. We can give this gift by encouraging autonomy and self-expression whenever the situation calls for it.
3. The gift of acclaim
Displaying an appreciation for someone else through compliment or praise is a remarkably powerful thing. For those feeling down on their luck, a well-intended act of praise may leave a lasting impression – perhaps changing the course of their life.
Acclaim can be freely given – anywhere and at any time. If you see someone deserving of praise, take a minute and say so.
4. The gift of a smile
William Arthur Ward once said: “A warm smile is the universal language for kindness.”
A smile costs us nothing but may mean everything to someone else. A person’s downcast attitude can instantly change if they see someone cares – something achievable through the simple act of a genuine smile.
5. The gift of (active) listening
In a remotely ideal world, the act of attentive listening wouldn’t be a “gift,” but in today’s society, it is. People the world over are inundated with distractions (with technology leading the way), rendering the art of listening mute.
When you take the time to sit down, look someone in the eye, and allocate 100 percent of your attention to them, you are providing a gift. Aside from demonstrating that you’re a good listener, you, in turn, show respect for them as a person.
6. The gift of our time
Time is a fleeting resource often used in pursuit of the wrong things. Some of the noblest professions – teachers, social workers, police officers, for example – spend most of their time interacting with people.
But we don’t have to spend 40 hours in a classroom, office, or squad car to provide the gift of service. Whether it’s routinely volunteering an hour here and there, conversing with someone experiencing hardship, or making yourself available, there are plenty of ways to spend our extra time to the benefit of others.
7. The gift of your passion
Everyone has something of which they’re passionate. The question is whether we’re using our passions to benefit society.
Do you love pets? Animal shelters are always looking for some extra help. Do you enjoy gardening? Look for community garden projects that need a hand. Love to paint? Plenty of community projects are seeking volunteers for everything from painting a building to painting a mural.
8. The gift of patience
This may sound like a childhood lesson, but everyone develops at their own pace. Don’t give up on someone because they haven’t fulfilled yours or others expectations.
“Patience is a virtue,” with some requiring more patience than others. Patience, in reality, is a manifestation of tolerance. People are capable of making a turn for the better – and we should encourage them to do just that.
9. The gift of sincerity
This next point is arguable, admittedly – but a shortfall of sincere, goodhearted people is evident in far too many places. In other terms, the population of deceitful and hypocritical individuals is disproportionately high.
To be sincere, one must display honor, honesty, and strong character. To be labeled as “sincere” is the utmost compliment – and a gift to those who know you.
10. The gift of tough love
It is wonderful to be a sensitive and compassionate person – but it’s not the only way to demonstrate love, and, in fact, can be counterproductive. Those who dish out tough love (think of a parent or teacher) recognize a pattern of failure that requires some constructive feedback.
We all need someone to provide advice, guidance, and the occasional kick in the butt. This isn’t easy for the “disciplinarian,” and it certainly isn’t easy for the recipient. But the right thing isn’t always the easy thing. Tough love for the win.
11. The gift of equality
We could write 3,000 words on the importance of equality, but we’ll desist.
Most notably, we’ve seen the harsh consequences of inequality and intolerance due to race, gender, and religious beliefs. Today, countries justify the bombing of a sovereign nation using cryptic, deliberately misleading statements.
To embrace and accept one another as equals is humankind at its finest. We may agree or disagree on matters; yet, there is a clear difference between civil discourse and disavowing one’s humanity.
Blackman, A. (2014, November 10). Can Money Buy Happiness? Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/can-money-buy-happiness-heres-what-science-has-to-say-1415569538
Haden, J. (2014, February 27). Think giving is easy? Think again. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/10-habits-of-remarkably-giving-people.html
Hamady, J. (2015, January 12). The Gift of Acceptance. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/finding-your-voice/201501/the-gift-acceptance
Preidt, R. (2013, August 23). Volunteering May Make People Happier, Study Finds. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20130823/volunteering-may-make-people-happier-study-finds
Taylor, S., Ph.D. (2015, January 09). Happiness Comes from Giving, Not Buying and Having. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/out-the-darkness/201501/happiness-comes-giving-not-buying-and-having
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