When Giving Equals Receiving

Artwork placard with the words love self written
Image credit: photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash.

Be selfish: give a little. Confused? A 2003 University of Michigan study shows that generosity improves immune function, mental and physical health, and longevity. While some may find it strange to think of selflessness as a little “selfish,” it’s okay: giving to others can be a gift to yourself.

The benefits of giving are twofold.

  • One, we get to experience the sensitivity, closeness, and warmth that comes from bringing joy to another person. This strengthens our own self-esteem, and makes us feel good about ourselves.
  • The second benefit is that it takes the focus off ourselves. Often, we are so locked into the dialogue we have going with our inner critic that we get stuck looking at ourselves through a negative lens. Giving to others shifts our perspective onto another person, quieting our inner critic and fostering feelings of kindness, fulfillment, and joy.

This week, try little acts of altruism. It doesn’t have to be grand to feel good:

  • Hold the door for someone.
  • Compliment an acquaintance.
  • If you have the time, volunteer at the animal shelter, or senior center - and if you don’t, volunteer to let your partner eat the last Oreo.

By giving to others, you open yourself up to the joy and satisfaction of knowing that you had a hand in someone else’s happiness - and that’s a gift worth giving.


Remember, these exercises do not stand in for the help of a licensed professional, and are not intended to be used in place of professional treatment. If you or someone who care about is experiencing a difficult emotional state, Nassau Guidance & Counseling can assist you in finding peace.

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