Selfish Reasons to be Generous

Most of the time we attempt to convince others to be generous with their time, talents and treasures by focusing on the needs of the individuals or organizations on the receiving end of the equation.

We’ve all seen the commercials that attempt to pull on our heart strings by showing us animals or children in terrible conditions — thanks Sara McLachlan. But there are selfish reasons as well, so why not focus on how generosity can benefit us personally versus the typical guilt-inducing approach?

1) It makes us feel good.

Countless studies have shown that helping others results in the distribution of chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins that literally give us a physiological boost of happiness. Additional benefits such as better sleep, lower blood pressure and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease have all been correlated with giving.

 Photo courtesy of Uncover KC service day with North Kansas City High School.

Photo courtesy of Uncover KC service day with North Kansas City High School.

2) It gives us perspective.

By putting ourselves in situations outside of our normal routine, we get exposed to circumstances that many times illustrate just how good we have it. When we are introduced to people who are struggling with things we take for granted, it can actually have an impact on our own stress levels. When we recognize the significant disparity between ourselves and those less fortunate, we develop a greater appreciation for our current state.

3) It helps us leave a positive legacy.

Maybe I am getting old, but at some point you start thinking about the legacy you will leave and the example you have been to your kids, co-workers, neighbors, etc. And being generous does not require overly burdensome effort or expense. Mother Therese once said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless”.

Hopefully this is enough to get you to start looking for opportunities to be generous, and if you need help, Uncover KC can help.

For me personally, I travel a lot for work, yet one trick I use is to carry gift cards with me for McDonald’s or Starbucks. When I see someone on the street in need, I'm already prepared to help them get a meal. And then if someone in a customer service role goes above and beyond in their role, I can do something a little extra and buy them a Grande Carmel Macchiato Extra-Whip. It's an easy way to give a small gift of generosity.

What ideas do you have?  Please share in the comments section below!