A lot is written about how eating well and doing physical exercise is good for your overall wellbeing. However, one area that is not covered as much as it should be is how ‘giving back’ plays its part in improving your health.
Buddha said, “Charity bestowed upon those who are worthy of it is like good seed sown on a good soil that yields an abundance of fruits”. Think, for example, of how much better it makes you feel just by giving someone a smile. This simple, tiny, everyday act of kindness and compassion can lift your mood momentarily. The more acts of kindness and compassion you can get into one day, the happier and more at peace you will ultimately fee about yourself.
Interestingly a recent study highlighted how this lift in spirits was demonstrated by the results of a brain scan on 19 women. Researchers at the University of Oregon utilised a brain imaging technique known as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) which demonstrates when specific parts of the brain are activated. Each woman was given $100, and watched a computer screen showing varying images showcasing situations where their money was taken, donated, reimbursed, or added to.
The results showed that the pleasure related areas of the brain were all activated under the following three areas – receiving money, seeing money go to a good cause, and deciding to donate money.
You do not want, however, to just randomly give money away left, right and centre just to feel good. Instead, approach your charity donation strategy by aligning it to your values. For example, as a Muslim, you may want to select a suitable Ramadan appeal, and research a suitable and relatable charity that offers a good Ramadan appeal strategy that responds to your values. Or if you are an environmentalist, you will want to explore organisations that match that element of the environment is closest to your heart.
Most importantly, and in this day and age of scams, you want to double and triple check that the charity you have selected is registered and viable. Different countries have different requirements, so you will need to ensure you are up to date with the relevant regulations for your home country. But it cannot be stressed enough, make sure 100% that the charity you have selected is a regulated, official organisation. You want to make sure that your donations are going to the right people in need.
Helping those who are vulnerable in need is the primary driving force behind giving to charity, but there are also tax benefits – particularly if you are a business. Check with an tax expert, but there are numerous tax relief schemes for businesses who want to both help the local (and wider) community, and optimise their tax efficiencies.
Once you have established your donation strategy and you your donation levels start to stack up, you can expect to start feeling two profoundly important improvements to your overall wellbeing.
Improved self esteem
Your self-esteem feeds into everything you do on a day-to-day basis. A low self esteem will affect your confidence, your performance at work, your relationships with friends and family. Keep an eye on it – be curious about how it improved week on week. You may be surprised how this simplest of changes to your life will ultimately completely reverse a negative downward trend.
Positive Mood and low rates of depression
If you have been prone to depressive thoughts, you might experience a lifting of the dark clouds. Take advantage of the chink of light and start to move towards it with purpose.