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The gifts of giving

Yesterday fortune shone in Victoria. I was walking along the street to the office and noticed a piece of paper fluttering by my feet.

I bent down to find it was a £10 note.

I looked to see if anyone had dropped it and was searching for it, but they weren’t.

So I picked it up.

There are many things I could do with a tenner, but a few paces later who should I see but the Big Issue Magazine Seller I see and say ‘Hi’ to everyday on that street (these guys are homeless or long-term unemployed people but moving their lives on by buying copies for £1.25 and selling them for £2.50).

And although I could do many things with that tenner, I thought it might give him even more value and joy than it would me, so I stopped him and asked if he’d be happy to take on my new windfall; he was surprised but more than happy to help me out by accepting the gift.

I pretty sure we both left feeling we’d benefitted somehow – and the research backs this up;

Giving makes us feel happy. (A 2008 study by Harvard Business School)

Giving is good for our health (A 1999 study led by Doug Oman of the University of California, Berkeley, found that elderly people who volunteered for two or more organisations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than were non-volunteers)

Giving promotes cooperation and social connection- (. “Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably,” writes Sonya Lyubomirsky in her book The How of Happiness)

Giving evokes gratitude (The lovely Barbara Fredrickson notes “When you express your gratitude in words or actions, you not only boost your own positivity but [other people’s] as well,”)

Giving is contagious -(A study by University of California, San Diego, and Harvard, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, shows that when one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously later, toward different people.)

What a great way to start the day for both of us

About Phil Parker

Phil specialises in the psychology of health, happiness and genius.

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