Thank You for Giving
Fun Fact: Did you know that the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday takes place in October each year because our winter starts earlier? Thanksgiving is meant as a celebration to give thanks for the year’s harvest, but if we celebrated it at the same time as our American neighbours to the south, there wouldn’t be any harvest left to give thanks for!
Thanksgiving is primarily about expressing gratitude and celebrating the achievements of the preceding year, but, what about giving a little something back? For many of us, it’s hard to come up with extra money to offer others, and that can feel disheartening if the desire to help is there. For others still, time is an issue, especially if they are balancing work, school and a family. However, giving doesn’t have to be about money or taking excessive time away from our personal lives. Rather, giving can be a moment in which something you do or say makes any kind of positive impact on another person’s life.
Giving has been proven to have many benefits for the “giver” as well as the recipient. One benefit is that it makes you happy, and it physically activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. Giving also has a positive impact on your health. A 1999 University of California, Berkley, study found that elderly people who volunteered for two or more organizations were 44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than non-volunteers, despite their personal dietary, exercise and social habits. Clearly, that sort of interaction affects us in a positive physical way. Giving also allows people to engage with one another, creating social connections which may have been absent previously, which in turn fosters a more healthy emotional state. Lastly, giving may be the goal, but a wonderful side effect is the inevitable “ripple effect” of generosity that seems to spread through everyone around us. Giving becomes more of an instinct, and with that instinct comes gratitude and mutual respect.
While it is certainly more common to volunteer for various organizations in order to give back, there are other ways to get involved in a positive way. At Academy of Learning College, for instance, we are collecting non-perishable food items for our Food Drive for the month of October. Donating a can of soup may seem like a small thing, but as a group, one item will turn into many, giving us the opportunity to make a difference to someone in need.
Other ways to give:
- Helping out a friend who has an elderly parent. Offering to spend an hour or two with an elderly or inform person to let their primary caregiver take a much-needed break. Elder care is coming to the forefront of the lives of many who have aging, ailing parents. Imagine having to work, balance your immediate family life as well as ensure the care for an aging relative. Sometimes, all a person needs is an hour or two of help to make the difference.
- Support each other in the job search! It’s so easy to become depressed or worried when the job hunt seems to go on forever without so much as a call for an interview. Be each other’s cheerleader and encourage one another to make those follow-up calls or to submit those résumés in person! It is so easy to slip into a negative pattern, but with the proper encouragement, anyone can feel empowered.
- Say hello to that quiet person in the corner. So many people struggle with shyness, or have been away from socializing for such a long time that they don’t easily mix with larger, more established groups. It can be very intimidating trying to get to know other people. Why not make the first move and strike up a conversation with someone you haven’t spoken with before? This is not only a nice way to make a person feel at ease, but it is an excellent way to network.
- Join the World Memory Project or World Archives Project. If history is appealing to you, and you are looking to finely tune your transcription skills, joining the World Memory Project or World Archives Project is an excellent way to satisfy both needs while giving. You can go through millions of historical records and transcribe them so that they can be accessed by the public. You can find information on these efforts at the following links:
We all know it feels good to receive, but giving always feels so much better. At some point in our lives, we’ve all needed a little help, so why not give it when we can?
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Be safe, and be happy.