Studies have shown that giving makes us happier. The way that we give doesn’t really matter, whether it’s through the gift of time, talent, or treasure. In essence, when we are given the option to freely give and do so, there is increased activation in the reward area of the brain. Biologically, we’re wired to give back, and there are ways to take advantage of that giving instinct that will play an integral part in our success and happiness later down the road, regardless of where you are in life. The most successful entrepreneurs also happen to be philanthropists that share their resources with others. When asked, they believe that charitable giving is crucial to their success.
When you started your career, you probably remember how hard that was. Imagine how much more difficult that would have been without mentors or coaches to help you and give feedback along the way. Take that energy and use it to pay forward what you’ve been generously given. Young adults from underserved communities will likely encounter difficulties in navigating their careers in part because of the lack of resources available to them. Ebony Beckwith, Chief Philanthropy Officer at Salesforce wisely points out that, “No matter where you ware in your career, there are others coming up behind you.” In her experience, paying it forward and uplifting the next generation increases workplace satisfaction, builds connections, and fosters a culture of giving.
Philanthropy need not feel selfless: Bethenny Frankel, founder of the Skinnygirl lifestyle brand, found that it re-energizes you and makes you a better person. Just like with volunteering, philanthropic work can provide an increased sense of purpose. When things start to feel superficial, Frankel finds that it’s time to engage in philanthropy again. It gives her a new perspective on life and reminds her of the things that truly matter and sets an example to her children to help people who, at the moment, can’t help themselves. Her ultimate takeaway: “After all, isn’t the whole reason we’re here and work day in and day out to make life better for others as much as, or even more than, for ourselves?”
Giving need not be difficult, either. You’ll find that, more often than not, even the smallest gestures or contributions can go a long way in helping to improve someone else’s life. Everyone has something to share, no matter where they are in their career or their lives. Among your team, you can share wisdom unrelated to work, emotional advice, or even a book recommendation – there are many ways to give back. You might discover, like Peter Hernandez of Teles Properties did, that the more you help others, the more they help you, thus building a culture of collaboration.