The world can be a dark and contentious place. Illness, famine, poverty, hostility, and desperation are all around us. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The world can be a better place. We can make a choice — a choice to be a voice of change, a change that can transform the world we live in. Entrepreneurs are well-positioned to help make that change. Giving is an idea that proclaims we can be something bigger than ourselves. It’s a reaffirmation that our lives have significant meaning and that, through the community, we can be our best selves.
Years ago, I implemented a phrase into the fabric of the core values of my company. That simple, two-word phrase, Givers Gain®, was a game-changer in giving people a different framework relating to the way they network with others. For people who get it, this philosophy unlocks a whole new world of meaning and opportunity. So, our job is to help people “get it”. More importantly, we can be intentional about helping people reach that place.
The Science of Giving
In 2010, Greater Good Magazine wrote that the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to others, “it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a ‘warm glow’ effect. Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing a positive feeling known as the helper’s high”.
Researchers at the University of California at Berkley found that people who volunteered to multiple organizations were “44 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than were non-volunteers”, and John Cacioppo, author of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, says, “the more extensive the reciprocal altruism born of social connection …the greater the advance toward health, wealth, and happiness”.
The Philosophy of Giving
There is a profound ripple effect that takes place through the act of consciously practicing a giving philosophy. I have seen the dramatic impact one person can have on another. I’ve observed the surging ripple that takes place as an act impacts one person and the next person and the next person, and so on. Within a community or a network, the ripple effect that takes place from this philosophy can influence hundreds or thousands of people. In fact, I believe it can influence the world. Giving is contagious. Conscious giving can be infinite.
There is a saying:
“If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”
For centuries, the greatest thinkers have suggested the same thing: Happiness is found in giving. The results of this philosophy cannot be observed as a straight line in life. It is a complex zigzag of interconnected relationships that lead to a place of contentment and fulfillment, and it begins with the right mindset. It’s about taking off your bib and putting on an apron. It’s not about what’s in it for you, or how much can you get. Giving is about serving and helping others in a very conscious way. Not doing so in a way that ignores the fact that there are takers in the world, but in a way that consciously chooses to find your fellow givers in the world. It’s easy to be cynical and think that the help you can offer is negligible, but it only takes a small gesture to change someone’s life.
The Story of Giving
We’ve all had people who are in “our story”. They are the people we talk about who have changed our lives in some way. However, there is something even more important: The real question is not who’s in our story but whose story are we in? Whose life have we made a difference in? This is what creates a meaningful life. It’s about being a role model for the people around you.
We often look at the world and hope that someday things will be different. But as my friend and author Sam Horn says, “Someday is not a day of the week”. If we wait for someday, we are waiting for others to make the first move.
“Someday” can be today and it can start with us. Today is as good a day as any to be our “someday”. We can all make a difference starting today. And that difference starts with a transformational change within us in how we deal with the people around us and the world beyond them. We would be giving without a transactional expectation and giving to people in all parts of our life appropriately. We would understand that we give what we can afford and that it’s OK to gain in such a society — a humble society is where saying “thank you” is the norm.
Start small but start today. Begin local but think global. Therefore, when you influence one life, you will begin to influence the world. Just start with the person next to you and know that: “You may not make a world of difference, but you can make a difference in the world”.