So now we finally come to the last piece in our Wellbeing puzzle, that being the practice or habit of “Giving”.
The interesting paradox of this exercise is that it is virtually complementary to the process of practicing gratitude. You see, when we give ourselves time in our busy daily schedule to practice gratitude as giving thanks to whom or whatever we believe in, it is the first step in the “giving” process.
Our daily (gift of gratitude) can be as simple as “thanks for waking up in the morning”, last thing at night taking note of “WWW” (what-went-well) during the day or a combination of the factors that lead us to appreciate what wonderful lives we are fortunate to live and in such a great country. This first step can lead us into the positive practice of acknowledging fellow drivers for a simple act of letting us in, thanking any or all of our service providers from bus drivers to shopping assistants and closer to home giving thanks to friends and loved ones for small acts of everyday consideration.
The next step in “giving” can be far more physical as in simply giving a pat to a dog or a friendly hug both of which have now been scientifically proven to increase the production of dopamine and serotonin which help both parties to be calmer, more relaxed and experience less stress.
Further along the chain of “giving”, though no less effective in creating our inner sense of wellbeing, are the gifts of money and resources to people in far less fortunate situations than ourselves, which is done without expecting anything in return, is wonderful for boosting your spirit and your soul and such altruistic behaviour has inbuilt mental and physical rewards far beyond what you could imagine.
As an extension of the foregoing when we volunteer in organisations that heavily rely on volunteering resources we inadvertently provide ourselves with social connection, interaction, co-operation and polish up our interpersonal skills.
Finally, the gift that is hardest to come by is the gift of time. When we genuinely give time and attention to those in greatest need and these could be ageing parents or grandparents, simply “being there” without a sense of obligation and being present for them is the greatest gift we can provide in their declining years.
A recent study by Dr Frank Lipman has shown that with selfless service comes the volunteer’s version of the “runner’s high”. Oftentimes our volunteering activities can trigger the release of the feel good hormone oxytocin thereby creating a naturally induced reduction in anxiety levels and a sense of more positive feelings towards ourselves and our fellow man. In other words, developing a habit of giving without expecting a reward is generally feel-good time for you and a helping hand for someone in need.