Give, and Your Heart Will be Content

Last Friday, we attended a “porch concert” in our friend Pam’s neighborhood. The concerts began during the pandemic and were a collective effort of the community to provide music outside and safely.

Thankfully, the concerts continue. Friday night was Beatles night, and the Nowhere Men did not disappoint.

Upon entering the driveway, there was a donation box, and I dropped in $20, assuming it was to defer costs for the musicians. As the evening wound down,  our host informed us that donations would be going to the “Lullaby Project,” which brings together parents and caregivers with teaching artists to write lullabies for their babies and toddlers.

I dropped another $20 in the donation box on my way out.

Giving is a universal gift that makes us happier. Research consistently shows that giving to others provides us with a sense of delight and pleasure. Our brain’s pleasure centers react to the action and respond as if we are the recipient rather than the giver. It also helps to lower stress levels and, I would add, builds resilience.

Generosity is a resilience “hardening” strategy or part of what I refer to as the “Preparatory” part of my Resilience Continuum (along with Navigation and Bounce Forward). In addition to the immediate pleasure we derive, we also build our immunity against the negatives and pain we see around us.

Being generous is not always about giving money. We can let someone into our lane in traffic or pick up some trash we see on our morning walk. Writing an unsolicited personal note to a colleague who helped you on a project will give you a look of disbelief and gratitude for your thoughtfulness.

Generosity is all about kindness, and there is more of it in the world that we can give to each other.

© Richard Citrin 2022

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