Giving is good for the giver

By Beth Caron

It’s that time of the year for graduation parties, weddings, and family gatherings, so I’ve been thinking a lot about gift giving. My first thought is always, “What does the recipient want to receive, and how will my gift make them feel when they open it?” I certainly hope they’re happy and appreciative, possibly even thrilled and delighted. But did you know it’s been scientifically proven that giving to others boosts happiness in the giver, as much as in the receiver?

Here’s an excerpt from an article in Scientific American about the benefits of doing nice things—what they call “pro-social behavior”:

“…Pro-social behavior—voluntary behavior intended to benefit another—can boost happiness. Although acts of kindness directly benefit the well-being of the recipient, they also create a pleasurable ‘helper’s high’ that benefits the giver. For instance, volunteer work is associated with greater happiness and less depression, and research has shown that performing five random acts of kindness one day a week (for six weeks) can increase your happiness.”

I don’t think this is shocking news. How many times have you heard this from someone who has just shown some extraordinary act of kindness, or who volunteers to make someone’s life better: “I’m glad it makes them happy, but I get so much more back in return.”

Studies show the more people recognize their acts of kindness and feel the gratitude of others, the better they feel. Sort of a self-perpetuating cycle of dopamine surges (and so much less expensive than other ways to get a brain boost, i.e., shopping!).

Kindness is good for business

Turns out that being kind isn’t just good for individuals. It’s also a savvy business strategy, one that is increasingly recognized as a best practice in any number of industries. Companies that show genuine care and appreciation for employees benefit from their increased feelings of community, connection, and satisfaction. Happier employees are more motivated and productive employees. Good for them. Good for business. (Read more: The cost of kindness)

I see this every day through the actions of my co-workers at the Great Clips corporate office, and from the anecdotes I read about on the salon community Facebook page, where stylists, managers, franchisees, and corporate staff can exchange information, tips, opinions—and stories like this that make me smile:

“We have two customers who have been part of our Great Clips family for over 20 years and are now in assisted living, so around any holiday, we deliver them special gifts from our Great Clips family to show our appreciation to them for being such loyal and loving customers.”

And this one really touched me:

“I was checked and humbled today! Last week a young man came in with hair longer than mine and a beard to match. He decided to cut all his hair and beard because he had a court appearance the next day. I'm ashamed to say in my mind I was making judgments. Fifty-seven minutes later I completed his new look and walked him to the front counter where his mom was waiting. I thanked them and invited them back. Today the mom returned and requested me. Once she sat in my chair, she shared with me that her son's court date was for his disability hearing, and it went well. She thanked me over and over again for showing him kindness and taking my time. She said he was really nervous about getting his hair cut, but he hasn't stopped talking about it since and thanked me again, to which I replied, ‘No, thank you. Thank you and your son for reminding me why I chose to be a stylist and for letting me be a part of an important thing in your lives.’”

I guess those scientists were right about pro-social behavior being good for the heart.

It’s probably been on your to-do list since the beginning of the year: Explore a great business opportunity with a company whose first value is “Be Kind.” Right? Give me a call. I’d love to talk with you.

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