GiVING Hospitality Through Generosity

Generosity is a virtue of freely giving gifts to others or to something other than ourselves.  It’s GiVING of gifts.  Sometimes it could be tangible gifts.  

Other times it’s intangibles such as giving someone a bit of our time, whether we’re listening to them, helping them through something, or even helping them with a project.

When we’re truly coming from a place of generosity, we do it because we want to, not because we have to.  Generosity comes from a place of kindness.  Kindness is simply doing something for someone or something, without any expectation of anything in return.

Consider how generosity makes us feel

When we’re on the receiving end of generosity, we feel a sense of gratitude.  

Research shows:  Gratitude, being thankful and appreciating what we’ve been given and what we have – whether it’s money, friendships, relationships, or help in some way from someone else– makes us happier, healthier, and creates stronger bonds with people.  

Science and research prove how GiVING and receiving generosity from others makes a positive impact in all of our lives.  

  1. Generosity makes us happier! In a Harvard Business School study, Professor Michael Norton and his colleagues found that giving money away to others lifted participants’ levels of happiness more so than other participants who spent money on themselves. These good feelings are reflected in our biology. In a 2006 study, Jorge Moll and colleagues at the National Institutes of Health found that when people give to charities, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. 

Science proves that being generous creates the same “happiness chemicals” inside our brains as eating our favorite desserts or experiencing our favorite pastime!

  1. Generosity makes us healthier!  Research also reveals that different forms of generosity – giving our time, talent, money, hearts, or resources – are linked to better health, even among people who are sick or elderly.  A spirit of generosity, giving of ourselves to others, is proven to make us healthier, causing us to live longer, because generosity reduces stress, which is associated to a variety of health problems.  

For example, researchers at Johns Hopkins University and University of Tennessee found that people who provide social support to others had lower blood pressure than those who did not.  Professor Stephen post, a professor of preventive medicine at Stony Brook University, found that giving to others has shown to increase health in people with chronic disease, including multiple sclerosis. 

  1. Giving creates strong bonds and social connections among any group of people.  Studies show that when we give of ourselves, people are likely to give back, returning the favor.  This is not to point out that “getting back” is a reason to give; instead, it’s just to highlight the reality and positive impact a spirit of generosity makes.  Giving promotes a sense of trust between people, and over time these consistent positive social interactions lead to strong and healthy mental and physical health.  

“Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably,” writes Lyubomirsky in her book The How of Happiness, and this “fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.”

  1. Generosity evokes feelings of gratitude. Whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of a gift, that gift can elicit feelings of gratitude—it can be a way of expressing gratitude or instilling gratitude in the recipient. 

Research has found that gratitude is integral to happiness, health, and social bonds. Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, co-directors of the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness, found that teaching college students to “count their blessings” and cultivate gratitude caused them to exercise more, be more optimistic, and feel better about their lives overall. 

  1. When we give, we don’t only help the immediate recipient of our gift. We also spur a ripple effect of generosity through our community.  A study by James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, shows that when one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously later, toward different people. In fact, the researchers found that altruism could spread by three degrees—from person to person to person to person. 

“As a result,” they write, “each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.”  Giving has also been linked to the release of oxytocin, a hormone that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection to others. 

Your GiVE Culture Challenge for the week:

Make a list of some ways you’ll be generous with your time, talent, and your heart to your friends, family, teachers, coaches, coworkers, or people in your community.

  • How will you GiVE Your Time?
  • How will you GiVE Your Talent?
  • How will you GiVE Your Heart?

We’d love to hear your stories of how your friends, coworkers, students, or family members have shown you hospitality; or how you’ve taken it up on yourself to GiVE hospitality to others.

Share it in the Lead with Hospitality Facebook group here.

Have a great day, and never stop GiVING the best of yourself and looking for the best in others.