Heath & Wellness

Are you “giving” this Thanksgiving?

November 2, 2011

Thanksgiving is right around the corner.  I’ll admit, this is my favorite time of year.  – Fall, the Holidays, New Year’s.    These are the harbingers of renewal.  The New Year is on the way.  It’s the perfect time to reflect and give thanks.

This time of year can also be very stressful and a time when many feel the effects of burnout and depression.  But there is something you can do to alleviate the stress: Give back.  I know what you’re thinking, “Is she crazy?  I’m already swamped at this time of year, and she’s asking me to do something else!?!?”  The answer is: Yes, I am.  Here’s why.

Giving back creates what psychologists call a “helper’s high.”  A “helper’s high” is a state of euphoria created by a release of endorphins in the brain.  That’s a good thing.

When we’re motivated by a true spirit of generosity, we benefit as much as those on the receiving end. Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello says it this way: “Charity is really self-interest masquerading under the form of altruism. … I give myself the pleasure of pleasing others.” In the same vein, the Dalai Lama playfully speaks of working to benefit others as “selfish altruism.”

But don’t just take their words for it: Research in neuroscience and psychology has offered scientific evidence that helping others brings happiness to yourself. Consider:

According to the measures the “Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey,” overseen by researchers from Harvard University, those who gave contributions of time or money were “42 percent more likely to be happy” than those who didn’t give.

From The Helper’s High, click here to read the entire article.

So, how can you get your own “helper’s high”?   Think of ways that you and your team can give back in a way that’s fun and fulfilling.  Here are just a few ideas.  Brainstorm others with your team.

• Adopt a family (or families) for the holidays.
• Collect toys to bring to kids in the hospital.
• Visit a nursing home.
• Mentor a child.
• Adopt a school in your neighborhood.
• Donate clothing.
• Give to Toys for Tots or another organization.
• Sponsor a food drive for a local food bank.

Choose something that you can do as a firm, and get everyone involved.  Nothing will make you feel better this Holiday Season than giving thanks and giving back.  Your “helper’s high” might feel so great that you continue your project throughout the year!


  1. Brian says:

    Heh heh, great minds think alike. I’ve planned THANKSgiving gifts for my clients this year, in lieu of Christmas gifts. Nothing big, but very tasty so watch out!

  2. Nora Riva Bergman says:

    Oh boy! If it’s anything like the Momofuku cookies, I’m in trouble!

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