Giving ’til it feels good

As the end of the year approaches, my congregation is, like many organizations, in the midst of our stewardship campaign. That campaign will determine the level of financial support for our ministries in 2013.

There is much biblical support for giving to such a campaign. If you’ve been around most any church for most any length of time, you’ve likely heard many of those examples. “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2Cor 9:7) and “it is better to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) spring to mind.

Our congregation is involved in many ministries for which we give thanks. Funding those ministries is another excellent reason to give to the campaign.

But how about we get a little more mundane for a moment? How about considering the benefits of giving on the giver? Inspired by an article (which, inexplicably, isn’t online) in the December issue of Men’s Health, we can say with confidence that giving to help others affects our brain, our body, and our spirit.

First, your brain: “Recent neuropsychological research shows that donating to charity activates neural activity in areas of the brain that are linked to reward processing – the same areas that are activated by pleasures like eating and sex.” [read the rest]

Plus, from the not-online Men’s Health article: “Giving to charity can activate the parts of your brain associated with social attachment, a National Institutes of Health study reveals.”

Next, your body: From the International Journal of Psychophysiology, “People who offer social support to others had lower blood pressure and stress levels.”

Giving can help to you to be healthier. And with those lower levels of stress and blood pressure, maybe even help you to live longer!

Finally, your spirit: “New research by one Harvard scholar implies that happiness can be found by spending money on others” (emphasis mine).

“Michael Norton, assistant professor of business administration in the marketing unit at the Harvard Business School (HBS), conducted a series of studies with his colleagues Elizabeth Dunn and Lara Aknin at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Together they showed that people are happier when they spend money on others versus on themselves.” [read the rest]

I don’t know about you, but I find this fascinating…and more than a little fun. So stimulate your brain, be healthier, and feel good. Consider these the good, selfish reasons for giving!

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