Why We Like to Give
“It’s better to give than to receive,” and “it makes us feel good” are some simple reasons. The former tends to make us feel guilty if we don’t give and the latter makes us look self-centered. Both quotes are reasonably true on face value but the reasons we give are more personal. Physiologically, when we give our bodies produce some wonderful chemicals that stimulate our pleasure center and boost our immune system. So, it is better to give than to receive and it feels good at the same time. It is also visually stimulating to see the receiver’s reaction such as seeing their face light up and that you made them happy.
Reasons we give
To Show Love – Gift giving something expresses our admiration and affection for someone. For some of us it is easier to give a gift of value than it is to actually express love but expressing love is the intent. Sometimes a gift bridges the gap in a relationship paving the way for feelings of love (e.g. chocolate).
To show gratitude – Gifts are often used to say “thank you” to people who have helped us out in some way. Gift is easier to when the relationship dynamics do meet other reasons to give such as a work friend.
To get something in return – A gift may be given in hopes of getting something back, such as sending a gift to a business prospect when trying to score a sale. This sounds totally self-serving but it is not uncommon in other cultures as a way of gaining business or mutual respect.
To meet expectations – There occasions were a gift is expected: birthday parties, weddings, house-warming, etc. We meet expectations in part to avoid being shunned or judged. Most of the time, people report they do it because of the expectation but also because of a personal or emotional bond that exists at the same time.
What Makes Someone and Exceptional Giver?
They give the gift of praise – Exceptional givers see the potential in everyone and everything. They do not have perfect knowledge but they have exceptional insight. They know intuitively that we are able to do great things and have the ability to help us find it within ourselves. Even for people we may think are low performers or merely meeting simple standards, with only a few words of recognition or encouragement, have a knack for inspiring people to do more, better or just feel good about themselves that they continue to show up the next day. Exceptional givers can see the spark in others that they may not be able to see or have lost along the way. I have one special boss that I enjoyed working for that was this sort of person. She was still flawed like the rest of us but she had my number when it was time for some motivation.
They have the ability to ask for your help – Most everyone likes to be asked to help someone especially if there is a prior relationship. Asking for your help is one of the greatest shows of respect one can receive. They are makingthemselves vulnerable to you and are trusting you to help. More importantly, if their need for help is of a personal nature, they are hoping you will not abuse their trust. There is a staff member at my church that has this incredible gift and is so hard to say ‘No’ to them.
Unfortunately, this skill is also very well exercised by people who are self-centered, narcissistic. This is where the con man gains your empathy and confidence. So be wary.
They have patience – I grew up being told never pray for patience because you will get more than you can handle. Exceptional givers understand the need to be patient. Because giving is encoded in the DNA, they have to ability to give their 100% but also wait for the right time to do so. They believe in you or your cause. And they can show patience with grace and confidence because they truly believe it is the right thing to do.
They understand privacy – For the exceptional giver this just not about being able to keep a secret. It is about them knowing not to ask questions and not to pry. The exceptional giver is patient and available for when you need to share. When you do, you can be certain of their respect for your privacy. They care more for you than the need to spread idle gossip or undermine your plans. In fact, they are just as likely to help you ensure your own privacy.
They embrace opportunity – Exceptional givers are optimists and see potential in people and their endeavors. They see opportunity but not necessarily in an opportunistic way. Their gift is more altruistic. They have a desire, if not passion, to see good things accomplished by you and for others and society at large. Exceptional givers often has a rolodex of connections they are willing to call upon to help you in your pursuits. There was a remarkable lady who saw an opportunity to provide meals to kids. See the story of .
They practice honesty – Exceptional givers will also give you the truth including the truth you may not want to hear. They will, with all do care, tell you when you are wrong, off-the-market, tunnel-visioned, etc. An exceptional giver will see your faults and bad habits as human failing’s not personal failings. They can deliver the tough love you need to know. They have no malice towards you; they have your best interests at heart. They will challenge you to move past your comfort zone and stretch to be a bigger, better person. Their candor is their gift of honesty coupled with wisdom.
They exude respect – Firstly, regardless of your character defects and shortcomings, exceptional giver always extend the measure of respect we all deserve. Secondly, they fact that they are engaged with you shows your have value and they will extend you the courtesy of being independent. They will see your work as meaningful will assist you as they can in maintaining your autonomy and authority.
Why We Give and Why Others Give
Giving, in the right circumstances and right reasons, can be an out-of-body experience. I know a lady that assembles and carries around care packages for the homeless. This was something she first learned to do in church. She has always been an exceptional giver but it is this small act of kindness that she feels the most reward and closest to her Christian values. She remembers most the looks expressed in the homeless people upon receiving her care package.
Giving is about becoming part of something bigger. When we give we feel a special ‘togetherness’ with others even if they are strangers. In the work we do that pays the bills, it can be difficult to see the positive impact we have around us. But giving is a remarkable gift of caring and knowing you were that someone who cared. Lending a helping hand (gift of service) is the single most easiest act you will ever do that makes a difference and impacts others for the better. Giving facilitates personal growth and selflessness will change you in remarkable ways. It’s just good for your mental health and good for your soul.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world”- Anne Frank
Written by Chip Sutherland, LPC Counselor at Cobalt Counseling, LLC, Frisco Texas. Chip specializes in relationship counseling, men’s mental health, teenage angst, anger, depression, anxiety, feeling stuck in life, substance use, life adjustments, work-life balancing and coaching/mentoring.