Insights: Give, Give, Give

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Writer Isabel Allende says “Give, give, give – what is the point of having experience, knowledge or talent if I don’t give it away? Of having stories if I don’t tell them to others? Of having wealth if I don’t share it? I don’t intend to be cremated with any of it. It is in giving that I connect with others, with the world and with the divine.”

A friend gave me this quote and it really spoke to me. We all have something we can give away—our talent, time, love, money, a smile.  Holding onto things does not make us happy. That is an illusion.

When we acquire things, we are happy in that moment, but it quickly fades. Studies show that we are generally happier when we give more than when we receive. For me, having experiences with people I care about is what makes me the happiest.

I just had a birthday, and three people wrote cards with a coupon for an experience (one that I enjoy) for us to share together. Two of my friends who are artists gave me paintings that had special meaning to me. These are all my favorite gifts. These will hold the memories that life is made of.

Studies show that as we get older, the more important our relationships are for our health and our happiness.

The older I get, the more I understand that the less I have and the more I focus on my relationships, the happier I am.

That is not to say I don’t enjoy buying things and I have the “want,” yet I remind myself that wanting is all it is. We want to stop the desire to want.  What is much more important if we redirect the want towards giving, towards having great relationships, towards experiences.

David G. Myers of Hope College and Robert E. Lone of Yale University analyzed data that found that even though the gross domestic product has doubled over the past 30 years in the United States, there was a five percent decrease in people reporting being very happy.

That means 14 million Americans are saying they feel less happy than 30 years earlier.  You would think that with a higher level of living, more choices and more free time we would be happier.

Michigan State University concluded in two studies, one on relationships and self-rated health and happiness and the second on relationship support and chronic illness.

In the first study, researchers studied over 271,000 people from all ages and nearly 100 countries. After this study, they concluded that good relationships are tied to higher levels of self-related health and happiness.

The second study analyzed over 7,000 adults in the United States, which showed healthy relationships also assist people as they age to feel less pain and increase their happiness.

If you are going to invest in your life, invest in your relationships, and in giving, giving, giving.  Even if it is just giving your smile.

I saw a great message on Pinterest: “To make a difference in someone’s life you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful, or perfect. You just have to CARE.”

By the way, my friend who gave me the quote left it on my doorstep with a chocolate bar and an invite to come to dinner sometime. What a special way of giving and caring.

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].

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