With this being is the week the holiday season officially begins, after American Thanksgiving, we are all about to open our wallets and hearts and give as we always do through the holiday season. But why are we doing this? Do we give to benefit others or do we give to benefit ourselves?
In our house we donate large amounts of toiletries, diapers, infant formula & food to our local food bank over the holidays. We also donate at least a dozen toys to a toy drive for children who otherwise wouldn’t receive a gift. Then there are the gifts to friends, family & coworkers. Why though, not just over the holidays, but throughout the year, what is behind the need to give?
The simple answer is it’s the right thing to do, but once again, why? There is no such thing as an altruistic act. So are we giving to make ourselves feel good, to be perceived as good, or to lower guilt about expenditures on ourselves throughout the year? That all ties into feeding our ego in one way, shape or form. Something we are taught is wrong. Being egotistical is a poor quality in someone according to common thought, but if you are feeding your ego by giving & boasting about your giving, is your egotism acceptable?
What if you give simply to bring yourself happiness, does it actually bring happiness? Studies say it does, but does it in all situations? Let us say hypothetical Jane has $500 of credit card debt & gives $100 this year to charity. Which will make her feel better & happier in the long run, giving the $100 or paying it towards her debt? Then we have hypothetical John. He’s a miserable person, but also the largest donor at work. Is he less of a miserable person because he donates money, or is it his excuse for bad behavior?
I will continue to donate whatever I can this season and continue to analyze why I do it and I strongly suggest that you do as well, because when all is said & done, I’m fortunate enough to question the why’s of my donations while others are in need.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the States this week! I’m grateful that my wife insists on celebrating both US & Canadian Thanksgivings 😜