EDITORIAL: It’s in our nature to give more than receive

Having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit? Consider helping a local charity or volunteering, and know there’s something in it for you: happiness.

Psychologists have long cited the benefits of generosity, including reduced stress and an improved sense of well-being, happiness, social connection and purpose in life. That’s not to mention the concrete aid you’re offering another organization or fellow human being.

If you need convincing, Burnaby SFU psychology professor Lara Aknin says people feel better about themselves when they spend money on others.

According to Aknin, who recently spoke in Surrey on this subject, there’s a growing body of research that shows people are not inherently selfish, and that when we help others, we increase our own happiness. This innate drive to give starts early. Aknin’s research team found children as young as two were happier giving away treats than they were receiving them.

This Christmas, give yourself the gift of happiness and consider lending a hand to the number of local organizations we’ve featured in our paper, be it Surrey Christmas Bureau or Surrey Food Bank. Behind the organizations are real families, local moms and newborn babies that all need help.

Or perhaps you have a charity or cause that’s close to your heart. Just remember the real meaning of Christmas isn’t about material things, overcrowded malls and last-minute purchases. The things that count, that really matter, are the nonmaterial – the gestures from one human being to another that say you are not alone.

So reach out to that isolated senior in your building, drop an unwrapped gift off at the Christmas Bureau toy room, or send a cheque to the pregnancy outreach program in a loved one’s name.

Just remember: when you help others, you’re helping yourself, too.

Glacier Media

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