Thursday, November 9, 2023

It’s the time of year where needs and wants become part of our conversations. As marketing efforts highlight the wants everyone must have this season, we are also reminded through ringing bells and red buckets that those closest to us are missing some of their most basic needs. 

As you explore your own wants, reflect on what brings you joy this season. Research suggests that when we choose to give, we improve our own happiness more than when we spend our resources on personal wants.

• Research identifies that financial generosity is one of the top six predictors of well-being worldwide. It leads to more pleasure in the brain and can actually lead to happiness.

• Volunteering also leads to high levels of happiness. One study identified that volunteering several times a year is correlated with high life satisfaction scores, and volunteering once a month improves mental health.

When we open our hearts, our calendar, or our wallets to our local charities, think about the ripple effect of change we create in the lives of those in need. By giving of ourselves, we help spread joy and have the power to transform our community by increasing everyone’s happiness, one act of kindness at a time. 

Please take time this month to explore ways you can give yourself and others the gift of happiness with your time, talent, and treasure. 

• Gifts of Time

o Where can you help organizations or people just by being there? Ways you can help include removing snow for a neighbor, serving lunch at a shelter, or visiting someone who may feel lonely.

• Gifts of Treasure (money and resources)

o Identify organizations that make a difference in your community to which you can make a financial donation. Donations don’t have to be large to be meaningful; you can purchase hygiene products for pantries or toys for local toy drives to support those in need. 

• Gifts of Talents

o How can your individual skills or abilities benefit those around you? You can send cards on behalf of local charities or get involved at a community center to support kids when they are out of school.

As you build your list of wants this holiday season, consider what you can do to shift efforts toward charitable giving. Whether it's a helping hand, a kind gesture, or a financial donation, each act of giving has the potential to elevate your own well-being and, in turn, raise the well-being of countless others. By collectively sharing and experiencing joy, we have the extraordinary capacity to make our community a happier place this season and beyond.

CALL OUT: Looking for ways to get involved on campus? Consider supporting the UI Food Pantry. The UI Food Pantry offers many ways to get involved and supports our university family right on campus.

Cover image by Joseph Pearson.