Humans are wired to be generous, and studies have shown that we get genuine mental and physical benefits from giving to others. There’s no season that proves we’re a generous species more than the holiday season, and we’re going to press pause on what we’re doing (loving plants, mainly) to take a minute or two to celebrate that.
“It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” Mother Theresa
Of course, and Mother Theresa evidently knew this, it’s not just gifts of “things” that we give at this time of year, but gifts of time, attention, love, and kindness are also (and perhaps more so) immeasurably valuable. Listening with full attention to a friend or loved one is giving. Volunteering is giving. Taking a minute to ask after a colleague’s wellbeing is a priceless gift of consideration and compassion. There are so many ways to give, and at this time of year, it’s a gift in itself to exercise those possibilities, isn’t it?
“Every gift which is given, even though it be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection.” Pindar (Greek poet)
If for no other reason, it’s an invaluable act to give in that it returns so many benefits back to us — giving has been shown to lower blood pressure and stress levels, decrease depression, increase self-esteem and provide greater happiness and satisfaction. In other words, if you want to improve your health — give. Your physical and mental health will benefit.
“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” Maya Angelou
So if you can, in this kindliest of holiday seasons, give. We know it’s a more complicated year in which to do so, as was last year.But we’re not only a generous species, but also a clever species — surely we can get around even this rather persistent obstacle (and safely, of course). Give someone you haven’t spoken to in a while a call. Give a donation to a worthy cause. Give a plant to a neighbour (probably this is our favourite idea). Just, give. And hey, it’s also been shown that giving is contagious — so who knows, you could ignite the nicest possible chain reaction of generosity. And wouldn’t that be marvellous?
“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” Hamilton Wright Mabie, American essayist and editor
Happy holidays and all the very best of the season to you, from your friends at gardenstead.