Give to Get: Altruism Makes You Happier and Healthier

Making giving part of your life strategy will pay off at work and in life.

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Curt Rosengren
Whether Christmas is your holiday of choice or not, Merry Christmas! In keeping with the spirit of the season, I want to talk about giving. Not the consumer-driven variety we tend to associate with this holiday, but one that is more altruism-based.

Question: Is giving part of your life strategy?

If it’s not, it should be. I don’t say that from a finger-wagging, “Thou Shalt Give” perspective. I say it from a personal benefit point of view. Study after study on altruism has shown that giving in its many forms can strengthen both physical and psychological health, contributing to your happiness, health, positive relationships, and more.

How is this relevant to work? Because it has everything to do with who shows up to do your job! The more you incorporate things into your life that facilitate your happiness and health, the happier and healthier the person who shows up to do your job (i.e., you) will be.

You are the factory that creates your career, and the better the condition of that factory (the happier and healthier you are), the better your potential to “manufacture” the career (and life) you’re looking for.

Try this: Brainstorm a list of the ways you can give, big and small. These can range from the traditional (e.g., giving to a charity) to the fleeting and spontaneous (e.g., engaging with a homeless panhandler with interest and respect).

If you want to expand the list (and plant a seed in the process) invite your friends and family to add their ideas.

Then use the list to help you develop a conscious giving habit. Every day, scan the list and ask, “What can I do today?” Use it as a prompt to help you keep an altruistic approach to life front and center.

After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book, 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work, and his E-book, The Occupational Adventure Guide, offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, the M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.