With Turkey Day rapidly approaching, I thought this might be an appropriate time to focus on two topics: Thanks and Giving. To me, they are inextricably intertwined, much like turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and football and, well, more football.
Throughout my adult life, I have had experiences that have taught me important lessons about both gratitude and generosity. Experiences that were humbling–and illuminating. Experiences that gave me insight–and perspective. Experiences in which the pendulum swung from giving to receiving–and back again.
While these experiences were not all fun-and-games (in fact, most of them weren’t fun at all), I am grateful for what they taught me–about myself, about life, and about what’s really important. These experiences also left me with an unending sense of gratitude that colors who I am, what I do, and how I see the world every day.
As a result, I often find myself counting my blessings at rather uneventful moments: when I walk down the hall from my bedroom to my kitchen each morning, when the weather changes, when I’m in my car driving, when I’m cooking dinner on a Friday night.
Counting my blessings fills me up in ways that compliments or material things simply can’t.
Giving has much the same effect on me. Some of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had involved the opportunity to help others in some way, shape, or form. While it may seem cliche, no matter how much or what I’ve had the chance to give–be it time, talent, money, or other resources–I have always gotten so much more in return.
A recent article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy revealed that between 2006 and 2012 the wealthiest Americans (those earning $200,000+ annually) gave a smaller percentage of their income than those who earned $100,000 or less each year. Not only that, but while giving among the wealthiest group declined during that time period, it actually increased among those who earned $100,000 or less–and increased by 17% among those taking home $25,000 or less.
I share this with you not to widen the chasm between the rich and the poor (the wealthiest Americans still give more to charity in terms of total dollars); rather, I do so to illustrate that even those who have less understand the importance of giving–and feel compelled to share what they have with others.
Perhaps that is because “Thanks” and “Giving” are also inextricably linked to Happiness (a concept now being measured by countries around the world, similar to the way they measure their Gross Domestic Product). In a report entitled, Gratitude and Generosity: Two Keys to Success and Happiness, the authors, from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, reflect on findings from the 2013 World Happiness Report. This study focused on the happiness of citizens of nations from across the globe and not only drew a correlation between generosity and happiness–it also drew a correlation between happiness, longevity, and productivity, three factors that we, at Boomers Leading Change in Health, focus on all the time.
The authors of Gratitude and Generosity also note in their report that “altruism makes people feel wealthier;” perhaps another reason why those with less increased their charitable giving from 2006-2012–and those with even less increased their giving even more.
This edition of The Boom Box offers a couple of ways people can support their favorite causes this time of year. One of them, Colorado Gives Day, enables you to support a myriad of local causes on Tuesday, December 9, with just a few clicks of a button. The other, Boomerang Giving, enables you to donate to charity the savings you would otherwise pocket from using a senior discount–a fantastic concept!
If you’re looking for ways to increase your health, happiness, productivity, and longevity (and what adult over the age of 50 isn’t?), I hope you will take a few moments during the busyness of the next ten days or so to count your blessings, truly enjoy every moment this holiday has to offer, and join me in indulging in at least a little Thanks and Giving, along with the rest of your holiday spread.
Here’s to a happy, healthy holiday full of thanks–coupled with a heaping helping of giving for all . . .