Nicola Morgan

Author, Speaker, Supporter

Understanding and Supporting Your Teenagers – few spaces left and I’m not doing it again!

When you give, you do more good than you think

What can you do when the world feels overwhelmingly sad or scary? When the news is full of stories of trauma or war or loss or people doing terrible things? How can one person – you or I – change anything for the better? It can be a paralysing thought, for any of us but perhaps especially for a young person. It can stop us doing anything because we think nothing will make a difference.

When it seems as though there’s nothing you can do, there’s only one thing to do: something. Anything that does not add to the weight of the world lightens it. Anything even slightly good is better than nothing at all.

One thing you can do, which has double the positive effect, is to give. Giving brings benefits to both the recipient and the giver. Give to help someone else but give to help yourself, too. You both deserve it!

If you’re feeling down or if someone you know is feeling down, what could you give?

Here are some ideas – and you’ll see that most of them cost nothing and none of them cost much:

  • Time – treat someone to a cup of coffee or an ice-cream sitting by the seaside or in a café or in your own kitchen; or just give them your time to chat and listen or go for a walk with them; play a board game; engage with them on something they enjoy – it’s the fact that you gave them some time that counts, not whether you actually spend any money
  • A small, thoughtful present: a packet of seeds; wildflowers picked from the woods or flowers from your garden; a bar of chocolate; something you know they use or like but can’t always afford – nice shower gel, a voucher for a favourite coffee shop, a magazine
  • A card or note with a cheering message – a few words of praise or thanks or respect
  • You don’t even have to write the message – you could just say something kind, something that recognises their effort or qualities
  • Give a book or a book token – a book is one of the best presents as it also gives the gifts of time, ideas and escape
  • Bake cupcakes, flapjacks or anything sweet and give them one portion wrapped in a paper container
  • Offer to do a chore for them – is there something they are struggling with or dreading? Maybe you can help, do it with them, share the load?
  • Something to look forward to – plan a trip to the cinema or seaside or park

You’ll find lots of simple, inspirational ideas on the Random Acts of Kindness website.

It’s obvious why giving helps the recipient:

  • They benefit from knowing and seeing that someone cared about them
  • It builds a positive element into their day, helping to reduce the negative pull they might otherwise feel – we all need enough positive things in our lives and we often feel down when there are too many negative moments, events, thoughts, whatever. Simply adding in some positive elements makes a big difference. They could and should do that themselves, as we all need to learn to take some responsibility for our own mood – but we often need help to achieve that and especially when we’re feeling really down. Your gift helps them instantly.

Why does giving help the giver?

You’ll find some links to the science of generosity in this article from philanthropy website, TrustBridge Global, and you might also like this article from BigThink, which is ostensibly about giving money but also talks about the benefits of volunteering and giving in general.

Here are the benefits I think we can be clear about:

  • Giving reduces the pain you feel from seeing someone you care about in pain – you feel you’re reducing their pain (as you are)
  • It strengthens a bond with the other person – and we humans are all about building connections between us
  • It raises your self-esteem – you know you did a good thing; good people do good things – therefore you are a good person
  • It can take your mind off your own problems for a while
  • It triggers the pleasure reward centres in your brain – when you give, your brain releases oxytocin and vasopressin, sometimes called the “feel-good neurotransmitters”
  • You get extra pleasure when you see the pleasure on the recipient’s face
  • There’s a positive link to lower rates of depression, better health and even a longer life!
  • General happiness rates seem to be higher – of course, this is complex and hard to measure, and givers could have many other reasons for being happier (not least the very fact that they feel in a position to give in the first place) but some research does show causal links between generous giving and happiness.

Who will you give to? 

What will you give them? 

What will that feel like for them?

And what will it feel like for you?

You are just about to make the world a better place. You did something. Well done!



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