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Anyone familiar with the Dickens’ classic, “A Christmas Carol,” will know that the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, was a stingy and cold-hearted man. In this novel, it’s only when Scrooge faces the ghosts of his past, present and dismal future that he realizes the joy and value of giving to others.
Of course, Scrooge is the most extreme example of the brokenness that causes people to withhold not only money but compassion and love. Yet most of us have experienced times that make us withdraw from the world — clinging to our money, time and instinct to protect ourselves from pain.
But there’s another way to heal: Giving to help another person or a cause. Learn how donating can help you feel whole while making a difference in others’ lives.
Feel Whole by Giving Time to Others
Lost connections can make us feel fragmented. Building social networks helps restore our health and well-being. Many people feel isolated and lonely because they’ve moved to a new location, work remotely, are in the hospital or have lost family members and friends to illness or death.
Reaching out to help these people — such as visiting the elderly or comforting a child in the hospital — can begin to restore your own positive sense of connection as you help others feel the same.
Feel Whole by Giving Thanks to Others
“Thank you.” Two little words that have a lot of power. Power to heal rifts. Power to strengthen relationships. Power to boost spirits. When we say “thanks” to others — whether it’s to the cashier at the grocery store or the urgent care doctor who treats a sprained ankle — we pass along some much-needed positivity.
Appreciating others and offering them a thankful word or two is a vital form of gratitude. Along with other ways of giving thanks, it’s been linked to benefits such as improved health, a more positive outlook and greater resiliency.
Feel Whole by Giving Gifts to Others
By the time Geneva Wetzel was 93, she had personally handmade and donated 850 knitted teddy bears to give to children who were admitted to AdventHealth New Smyrna Beach (formerly Florida Hospital New Smyrna). Mrs. Wetzel said, “I enjoy doing it and it’s for a good cause. I hope the children enjoy it, too. I hope it lights up their eyes a little bit and makes them feel a little bit better.”
Mrs. Wetzel exemplified research showing that supporting those in need relieves stress and leads to the satisfaction of benefiting others.
Feel Whole by Giving Funds to Others
A recent study supports the biblical truth that it’s better to give than receive. The research showed that generous giving changed brain activity to bring about feelings of happiness. Another study found that spending money on other people had a more positive impact on happiness than spending money on oneself.
A feeling of well-being also comes when you know what your money is being used for, whether you’ve donated to a worker who’s ringing a bell outside the shopping mall or you’ve given a planned gift.
Becoming Whole: Giving Helps Mend Brokenness
Donating time and money isn’t meant to replace other forms of care for your body, mind and spirit. Talking with your doctor, a pastor or a mental health counselor can and should be part of the healing process if you need it.
But God has certainly wired us to have many needs met by giving: the need to feel that we have freely chosen to give, to feel that we’re good and capable, and to feel that we’re closer to others because we gave. Giving can be a path to the wholeness we all desire and deserve.