It’s the season of giving, so whether you volunteer your time supporting a local charity, donate to Toys for Tots, or simply bring some cookies to your neighbor who can’t see their family this holiday, every act of kindness counts. And lets face it; there is something to be said for the feeling of gratitude.
A recent study has delved into why the act of giving feels so good. The study, which was published in Primary Health Care Research and Development, found that gratitude, “decreases pain and depression, and boosts happiness.”
To conduct the study, researchers created a six-week pilot program where they observed patients with symptoms of depression while they participate in programs that encourage engaging in good deeds. The deeds varied and included tasks like writing gratitude letters. According to the study, the 75 patients who completed the full six-week program had greater energy and more daily accomplishments were recorded. Showing overall improvement in the patient’s depression.
Dr. Michael McCullough, a psychology professor at the University of Miami, explains the effect of gratitude on peoples motivation and happiness. “Gratitude motivates people into trying to give back and volunteering is good for health… Emotional state to social contact to feeding back into health behavior — it all makes sense,” McCullough tells WSJ.
So if you’re excited to give, but you are confused about where to give, you may want to try volunteering. According to Greatist, volunteering proves to be a double whammy, because you not only help others but you also benefit yourself in the process.
Another great way to motivate yourself to volunteer is by making it a team activity. Taking time during the holidays to sign up and volunteer with co-workers or family can make the first steps of getting to a volunteering event that much easier. Instead of having an extensive holiday party, try to opt for a volunteer event and drinks after.
According to Harvard Health Publications, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
Gratitude isn’t just about volunteering for different causes either, it can also positively impact your personal relationships. According to Harvard Health Publications, a study of couples found that individuals who express gratitude to each other felt more positive toward the other person but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship.
Going beyond romantic relationships, showing gratitude through a manager employee setting can result in a more positive work experience.
So, with the holiday season of giving in full swing, take time to give to others, in return you will probably find yourself in a happier state. Switching up your normal work routine to give and help others can also radiate into your personal life.
The key to gratitude is giving without expecting something in return. According to Huffington Post, giving with no strings attached can maximize your happiness and will boost your feelings this holiday season.