Give More Than You Must: It’s Good for You and Your Career

Several years ago, I had a wonderful—but sadly, unique—experience.

My phone needed a repair. Our mobile phones have become near-necessities. So when it became evident that my only option was to mail it off for a couple of weeks, you’d think the phone maker, the seller, the carrier – somebody! – would offer a loaner, right?

Nobody did.

Instead, both the carrier and the seller suggested I buy a burner phone for the two weeks the repair would take. Then, they said, I could return it and get my money back. Um . . . trust them to get the repairs done within the return window for the temporary phone? Yeah, sure (eye roll).

By that time, I’d spent several days bouncing between the carrier, Samsung representatives, and Best Buy. In the midst of my frustration, and “Can no one really do anything about this?” two young men stepped up to go above and beyond: a Best Buy employee and the in-store Samsung rep.

Even though it wasn’t part of either of their job descriptions, they figured out how to repair my phone. They looked up videos. They checked other resources that my non-tech-savvy mind cannot comprehend. And they figured it out.

They could’ve shrugged and said, “Not my problem.”

They could have gone back to the employee breakroom to complain about hard-to-please customers.

They could have focused on their own at-work stresses.

They could have chosen to not spend time or emotional capital on someone they would never see again.

Instead, they chose to be generous with their time and their empathy. And their giving attitude probably contributed to their health—and their wealth.

Give for a Healthier You

When we think of giving to others – whether it’s our favorite hero sacrificing his life for his buddies or us giving a few dollars to the homeless person – those actions call an emotional response from us.

It seems intuitive, then, that being generous has an effect on mental health. But did you know that it can affect your physical health as well?

Multiple studies indicate that providing social support, either as a formal volunteer or by giving time to help friends, family, and neighbors, may help you live longer.

And John Hopkins and the University of Tennessee published a study in 2006 that shows that people who spend time helping others tend to have lower blood pressure than those who do not. [1]

Do you enjoy sex? How about your favorite food?

Well, the same parts of your brain that those things light up also light up when you donate money or time. And you get the same feel-good hormonal release of oxytocin and endorphins.

In fact, a 2008 study showed that people who spent money on others had more long-term happiness than those who spent the same amount of money on themselves.[2]

And less stress plus greater happiness can help lower depression.

Job Hack: Generosity

But generosity does more than help others and boost your health. Giving to others pays you back in ways that advance your business/career. Check it out:

  • Writing for Forbes, Brett Steenbarger observes that leaders who get the most out of their teams are the ones who give the most to their teams. He says, “Giving yields an exponential degree of receiving.”[3]
  • Generosity builds trust, cooperation, and a sense of closeness[4]—all essential to success in the work world.
  • Your confidence grows as you see the impact you can have on others. And that can spill over into your job/business.[5]

Back to the two young men who went out of their way to repair my phone. How do you think I felt toward them? I gave them a shout-out on Facebook and wrote thank-yous – to their bosses.

In other words, I reciprocated the gratitude I felt for them. And gratitude carries its own rewards. (Check out my article to learn how gratitude is a life and career hack: Gratitude is Good for You and Your Career.)

Giving Rewards You

As social creatures, we instinctively know that the greater good is our good. We may not always see the impact of our generosity, but it’s there. Science says so.

And lots of times, giving does pay us back in ways we can see and feel—in our body, mind, and career.

How has someone else’s generosity impacted you? How can you pass it along? Start a habit this season that you can carry over into the new year. And beyond.

[1] Marsh, Jason and Jill Suttie. “5 Ways Giving is Good for You,” Greater Good Magazine. University of California, Berkeley, 13 December 2010. Accessed 16 December 2021.

[2] The Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. “Giving is Good for You,” Psychology Today. 22 November 2017. Accessed 16 December 2021.

[3] Steenbarger, Brett. “The Psychology of Giving,” Forbes, 25 December 2017. Accessed 16 December 2021.

[4] Marsh & Suttie, 2010.

[5] Connley, Courtney. “Dynamic Do-Gooder: 4 Reasons Giving Back Can Benefit Your Career,” Black Enterprise, 4 August 2014. Accessed 16 December 2021.

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