“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”—Maya Angelou

As much as the holiday season brings about crazed shoppers, festive parties, cozy weather, eggnog, and special desserts, it also brings about a season of giving each year. Businesses, corporations, nonprofits, charities, schools, churches, families, and individuals alike are unified under a mentality that small acts of kindness contribute to making the world a better place for everyone. Giving Tuesday (#GivingTuesday) is a global day of giving, fueled by social media and collaboration. As a result of celebrating this day and giving back all year long, we’ve been able to experience first-hand the positivity that is generated through giving, with our Alfred Cares initiative. So, why does it feel so good to give?

Here are some ways in which giving can benefit our physical, emotional, and mental health:

1. Lower Stress

According to a study from social psychologist Liz Dunn, when participants of an experiment were given $10 and offered the option to either keep or give away the money, those who chose to keep the money experienced shame, causing an increase in cortisol levels. Those who gave the money away felt happier.

2. Improved Emotional Health

Generosity can greatly improve self-esteem. In other words, we feel good about ourselves when we give! According to BMC Public health, volunteering time can lead to a reduction in depression and psychological distress, and an increase in healthy coping mechanisms, healthy lifestyle choices, and longevity. Generosity also provides an opportunity to be more empathetic—to step into someone else’s shoes and see a new perspective.

3. Enhances Social Life

Contributing time and resources to others provides an opportunity to create new relationships—whether it’s with other volunteers, or bonding with those we’re giving to. Giving helps establish a unique trust and connection, creating a sense of community. Greater Good has reported that while social connections are linked to both happiness and finding meaning in life, giving provides more of a sense of purpose, while receiving provides more happiness.

4. The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Generosity is contagious. We’ve all heard the term “pay it forward”—when someone does something kind towards you, you create a chain of generosity by doing something equally (or more) kind for someone else. A study published in Psychological Science also suggests that we become more motivated to continue giving when we reflect on other times we’ve given in the past. So, while it’s nice to remember what others do for us, also consider your own generosity in an effort to fuel more giving!

As musicians, we are lucky to be able to offer the gift of music, among many other things. At Alfred Music, we believe that music is essential to a well-rounded education, and we believe every person should have the opportunity to experience the joy of making music. The Alfred Cares initiative was established to support music education where and when it’s needed the most through donations, professional development programs, participation in Music Education Advocacy efforts, and more.