Mother Teresa once summed up the essence of giving this way: “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” People may miss this message, with their hearts in the right place, through only donating money; instead of building a connection with those in need, benefitting their own health in the process.
Nurturing growth with experience
The act of giving to a cause as well as the social connection one makes with others through giving, can lead to emotional health benefits in people of all ages. For children and teenagers, the greatest benefit of social interaction from good deeds can be found in personal development.
Teenagers are in the transitional phase between child and adulthood, searching for a purpose and sense of being. Kenneth Ginsburg, M.D., describes how teenagers and children can thrive through giving to others. With a variety of chances for youth to give back to society, those, “Who make contributions to others learn to see beyond themselves,” Ginsburg states.
Along with finding their place in the world, children and teenagers who volunteer can gain a boost in their confidence from others. Ginsburg explains, the younger volunteers who, “Hear from numerous people besides their parents, ‘I think you matter,’ and absorb the important belief, ‘I have high expectations for you,’” realize their actions can have an effect on the world they live in.
Another benefit besides positive feedback is the youth building connections with others in their neighborhood, city and school. By connecting with people outside of family, youth who give, “Recognize their place in the human family and on our common planet,” Ginsburg adds, “They come to appreciate their blessings and with gratitude, learn to give something back.”
Meeting the individual on the receiving end of a donation will help to show teens that they can make a difference. A 2013 study has found helping a friend or stranger in need through donation can benefit mood and lead to positive feelings, when done face to face.
Seeing where the money goes
While giving a donation is not wrong, people may not feel any benefit or connection to the cause from just monetary donation alone. Building a connection with those receiving the donation, boosts emotional health. Lara B. Aknin, Ph.D., and other researchers conducted a study on social connection turning good deeds into good feelings.
Over the span of three experiments, Aknin and researchers found social connection to be an integral factor. The study explores how social connection enhances the, “emotional payoff of charitable initiatives.”
In one of the experiments, “Participants who gave more money to a recipient were happier when they delivered the funds directly to the beneficiary.” Building a social connection with the individual in need or even a representative for the individual, held stronger emotional benefits for the giver.
Getting involved with a local homeless shelter or movement and meeting the people in need will help teenagers learn the positive impact they can have on society. A teenager who helps out and sees the effects of the good deed, can not only reap the benefits of more positive emotions, but also develop a stronger sense of self. The Sovereign Health Rancho San Diego Facility, treats mental illness and substance abuse issues in teens aged 12 to 17. Teen patients receive personalized treatment and acquire the skills necessary to live a successful life after treatment. Call our 24/7 helpline for enrollment details.
Written by Nick Adams, Sovereign Health Group writer