Intentional Living

Start Living Start Giving

Sharing is caring!

Last Updated on February 2, 2024 by Carolyn

Start Living Start Giving
Start Living, Start Giving

“We Make a Life By What We Give..”

This is a snippet from a famous quote by Winston Churchill, the full quote being:

“ We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”

Wise words.

Find happiness, start living start giving.

Giving and Living

Changing a Flat
A Helping Hand is Always Appreciated (photo credit Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels)

 How often have you regretted doing a favor for someone? Be it helping someone with a flat tire, giving a homeless person a few dollars, or picking a stray dog up from a busy highway, chances are you’ve recently done a favor for someone. How did it make you feel? 

It made you smile inside, didn’t it?

Now let’s turn the table. 

Earlier today, a co-worker asked for some help on a project, but you brushed them off because you were too busy. A neighborhood kid asked you to sponsor them in a fundraiser, you said no.

How did these latter interactions make you feel? Probably, not so good.

Acts of kindness or giving make you feel good and result in happiness.

Research Proves the Theory of Happiness by Giving

A research study by the University of BC and Harvard Business School concluded that those who spend on others are happier than those who spend on themselves.

In an interesting study, researchers asked students if they’d be happier with $5 in their pocket or $20. Not surprisingly most said they’d be happier with $20 in their pocket and the majority also said they’d rather spend the money on themselves than others.

The researchers then gave the students $5 or $20 and told them to spend the money. Half were told to spend it on themselves, and half were told to spend it on others. The participants who spent the money on others were the happiest at the end of the day.

Two other similar studies’ results mirrored the results above. Participants who gave were happier than those who didn’t.

The Science: What Makes us Feel Happy when we Give

Holding out a Gift
Giving Gives Back (photo credit kira-aud-der-heid, Unsplash)

Happiness is not the only beneficial result of giving. Neuroscience has proven that giving is good for your physical as well as mental health.

It’s been shown that the act of giving releases all 4 of the “feel-good” neurotransmitters.

That “warm fuzzy” feeling you get when you give? That’s dopamine being released from your brain. Its role is to make you feel good after doing something enjoyable. Dopamine’s effects are somewhat fleeting and can leave us looking for more. Dopamine also is involved in body movement, memory,  mood, and attention.

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for boosting mood and results in a longer-lasting feeling of happiness. Serotonin also regulates digestion, is involved in bone growth, and organ development.

Oxytocin is a social chemical. It is the hormone that is released at birth and is responsible for the bonding between mother and child. It is released during moments of contact. Oxytocin benefits include boosting the immune system and giving us feelings of calm and safety.

Endorphins are inhibitory neurotransmitters with their primary function being to block pain. They also lower stress, improve mood, and enhance your sense of well-being.

All 4 of these neurotransmitters are released when giving or eing kind resulting in feeling happy and being in a good mood.

Practicing Abundance Rather than Scarcity

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
The Grinch’s Heart Grew 3 Sizes When He Realized the True Meaning of Christmas

Part of the giving journey is developing a mindset of abundance instead of scarcity. Those who give know that there is enough to go around.

Those who don’t are practicing a scarcity mindset, hoarding resources because they may be limited.

By giving you’re letting the world know “Yes there is enough”. And, the great part is the more you give, the more you reap, and you’ll find that you reap more than you sow.

Recall the beloved Dr Seuss story “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas “. In this world-renowned story, we watch the protagonist, the Grinch try to steal the joy of Christmas from the Who’s of Whoville. And what happens after he steals everything? The Whos gather together to celebrate and smile despite all of their gifts, food, trees, and trimmings disappearing.

How could this be the Grinch ponders?  And in that moment his heart is said to have grown 3 sizes as he realizes the true meaning of Christmas is not bought at a store, and that the true meaning of Christmas is about giving and sharing. In this moment the Grinch makes the change from a scarcity mindset to one of abundance.

Ways to Give

Giving is not just about donating money, there are many ways to give, and there are no barriers to giving. Everyone can give, no matter where they are in life’s journey.

Let’s review some of the many options to give:


Money is probably the most obvious way to give but there are many ways to give money.  

  • Give money to charity: There are numerous good charities in the world. Find one or more that resonate with you and donate to them. Some charities like animal shelters post wishlist items online, buy those items for them, and make feeding the pets just a little easier.
  • Buy something for a needy family in your area or buy food and give to a local foodbank.
  • Perhaps you don’t see a friend often enough as they don’t have much money to spare, so invite them to coffee on the condition you pay. Or perhaps invite them over for lunch and have lunch waiting when they arrive.
  • If a friend is sick or incapacitated in some manner, buy them some groceries.

Many of us go through life not being able to afford to give much.  Remember that just the act of giving something is enough. Giving is not measured by how much, but more by how often.

For those of us nearing retirement and financial independence what better time is there to share the wealth that has been bestowed upon us? The worry of making rent and putting food on the table is gone, now is the time for sharing.


“The most precious resource we all have is time” ~Steve Jobs

Time is invaluable.  The act of spending quality time with others is priceless. 

In his studies of Blue Zones around the world Dan Buettner has discovered that social connection is one of the keys to living a longer healthier happier life.

Three of the nine common traits found in Blue Zone centenarians were social connections. They are:

  • Belonging: Participating in a faith-based community;
  • Loved Ones First: Putting family first in all decision-making; 
  • Right Tribe: Find your circle of friends who share your passions and healthy lifestyle

For introverts (myself included) it can be so tempting to not get involved and stay home enjoying your peace and quiet but humans are social creatures and even introverts thrive on social interaction.

Suggestions for spending time with others:

  • Start a family night where all your family makes time to sit down and eat together without electronics and then afterward watch a movie or play a game together.
  • Call a neighbor and invite them to coffee or tea or perhaps start walking your dogs together.
  • Join a social group like a book club, travel club, nature club, or fitness club.  There you will find people with the same interests to share your experiences with.
  • Take classes.  Is there something you’ve always wanted to try? Why not venture out and take that cooking class that has always intrigued you, or perhaps get out and enjoy some skiing lessons? 
  •  Stop saying yes to overtime and spend time with your kids. Play with them at the park, read to them before bed, and ask school-age children what they learned today at school.  Take an interest in what they are doing. 


There are many ways to volunteer and as you prepare to exit the workplace rat race it’s a great time to start volunteering.  Many retirees don’t know what to do with themselves and end up going back to work just to keep busy.  

You’ve spent countless hours honing your skills in the workplace, or perhaps a lifetime devoted to a sport or hobby, volunteering is a great way to share your wealth of expertise. 

Watch those kids’ eyes light up when as a wildlife park volunteer you lead them on their first night-time hike and they hear their first “hoot hoot” of a snowy owl.

Non-profit groups ALWAYS need more help.  Find one whose pursuits interest you and start volunteering for them.

When the wildfires were devastating Australia a few years ago, and rendering so many animals homeless, I was inspired to help. People around the world were knitting mittens for the injured koalas to wear as their hands healed. I wanted to help. And then I thought about where I live in Colorado and how many wildfires rage through this state every year. I want to help the animals in my backyard as well. I signed up to be a Colorado Parks and Wildlife volunteer. 

The experience has been wonderful.  At my first volunteer meeting, I knew I was in the right place as the room was filled with people dressed just like me, in simple outdoor clothes and when they talked about wildflowers and animals it was with the same passion I share for them.  My experience being a volunteer with Colorado Parks and Wildlife has been very enriching.

My gift of volunteer time ends up being a gift to myself, as I share in animal and nature experiences with people from around the world.

Volunteering doesn’t always have to be for a non-profit organization. You can volunteer within your community assisting the elderly, sharing transportation of kids with other families, and so on.

Random Acts of Kindness

Random acts of kindness aren’t just about paying it forward at the local coffee shop.  There are opportunities everywhere to be kind to strangers be it by picking up something they dropped, giving directions to someone who looks lost, or letting them go ahead of you in line.

Did you know that giving is contagious? People are more likely to perform a random act of kindness if they watch someone perform such an act.  The more we perform these acts, the more people around us will perform a random act of kindness. Let’s get that ripple effect going!

Some simple random acts of kindness you can incorporate into your daily life:

  • Stock the local little library with some books you’ve read
  • Smile and say “hi” when you pass people on the sidewalk or trail. Make eye contact with them.
  • Don’t be shy to compliment someone. If you think their outfit looks good on them, tell them so, don’t keep good thoughts to yourself!
  • Actually listen to your spouse or child when you ask them how their day went
  • When driving, ifsomeone wants to merge into your lane, let them!
  • Call someone just to tell them you are thinking about them

Be Selfless

Being selfless means being generous and not concerned with one’s own needs.  It’s about loving others and doing the right thing.

And the funny thing the more selfless you are, the more people will care about you.

Being selfless is about being intentional and taking the time to do things that take a little longer but are the right thing to do. For example,  you’re clearing out the clutter in your house and you have a bunch of worn sheets and blankets.s The simplest thing to do is throw them in the trash, but is that the right thing to do? Of course not, that is just adding waste to landfills unnecessarily! There are thrift stores that will take the slightly worn blankets and sheets, and animal shelters that will gladly take those blankets that might be a little more worn.

Make Giving a Habit

Keys and Flowers
The Key to Happiness is Giving

What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray. When you learn to transform your habits, you can transform your life.”

~James Clear, Author of Atomic Habits

For some, the act of writing their acts of kindness down, and keeping a gratitude journal inspires them to be more generous. After all who wants to have an empty gratitude journal?  They come in all colors, shapes, and sizes,  search for one that talks to you!

For others just being around people who give inspires them to give more (the aforementioned ripple effect).

For some learning and reading will empower them to make giving a habit.  They might want to explore how to be happier and lead a happier life. Some suggested reading include:

The book Atomic Habits by James Clear will teach you how to make good habits and break bad ones.

You Happier is an interesting read about how happiness is a brain function, and how a healthier brain will lead to a happier life.

In “The Giving Way to Happiness” people like Goldie Hawn and Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus” share their stories on how the thing that has brought them the most joy in life is the simple act of giving.

Of course, there are some great websites all about giving, a couple I can’t not mention are:

365Give is a site that inspires giving 365 days a year and Kickstart Kindness a site by the Mayo Clinic Health System that offers a program to well, Kickstart Kindness!

Are You Ready to Start Giving and Start Living?

You have the knowledge, you know the steps. Take action to make these habits of giving a daily practice, and find happiness: Start Living Start Giving!

Pin this to Start Living Start Giving
Want to start Giving? Start by Pinning this Post!

Sharing is caring!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *