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Getting to the Heart of Doing Good

[caption id="attachment_3035" align="alignright" width="300"] Blog by Associate Colette Parker, OPA - Co-Director[/caption] Research has shown that giving makes us far happier than receiving. Now, there is a new study showing that there are connections in the brain between areas associated with generosity and areas related to happiness. The research suggests that the joy of giving starts in the brain. While I found it intriguing that the study found a neural link between generosity and happiness, I couldn’t help but wonder: what about the heart? I am a firm believer that giving begins with the heart. I believe that we each must decide in our hearts if we are willing to give and what we will give. Our attitudes toward material things reflect the condition of our hearts – we can check our attitudes to see if we have a “getting” heart or a “giving” heart. Is what we have never enough and are we always seeking more? Or do we put others first and do everything in our power to make a difference? Is our heart devoted to material things? Or is it devoted to God and/or humanity? We can find out if we have a giving heart by checking areas of our lives that require giving. Here are some examples:
  • Do we offer to help a loved one or try to stay busy so we don’t have to?
  • Do we offer to mentor or encourage others?
  • Do we skip a break to help a co-worker finish a project?
  • Do we help clean up after an event?
  • Do we take interest in the marginalized?
  • Do we listen attentively to conversations?
  • Do we willingly give up the last piece of the dessert?
All of the above require us to put others first – exactly what a giving heart does. Over the weekend, I was standing in line at a dollar store when I noticed a little boy – probably about 4 years old – standing in front of the automatic door. He exclaimed to his father “It opens by itself!” His father explained that it opens when you stand it front of it. The youngster approached the door twice as if he was testing it to see if his father was right. Then he walked over and stood by his mother in the check-out line. A few moments later, a lady approached the door and the little boy ran over to stand in front of it. As she walked into the store, the boy looked up at her and said: “I opened it for you!” With a broad smile on her face, the lady looked down at the boy and said: “Thank you so much!” The boy returned a beaming smile and said “You’re welcome!” He then skipped back over to his smiling parents. A small act of kindness can go a long way. The Bible says “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). I believe that when people are generous, they discover the joy of giving. Whether the willingness to give begins in the brain or heart, I am convinced that there is nothing more fulfilling than knowing you have made a difference in the lives of others. It only takes one small act of kindness to make the world a happier place.

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