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You know what’s great about the Thanksgiving Holiday? I know what you are probably thinking….. Turkey, family, friends and football! , but that’s not what’s really so great about it. Thanksgiving is the time of the year that is a reminder to take a minute and think about what you really have to be thankful for.  Once you take a back seat to everyday life and realize how much you have to be thankful for it helps to refocus your energy into a positive channel. Sometimes all we need is a little humility and gratefulness to lead us to do great things. I guarantee after you refocus, you will realize you have a surplus of energy left over. Don’t let that energy go to waste, use some of your energy to focus on empowering others.  There are many less fortunate who will not have a thanksgiving dinner, they will not have a warm jacket in the cold weather and they will not be in a warm house sharing the holiday with family and friends. A simple gesture of kindness can go a long way.

Recent statistics show, 46.2 million Americans, or 15 percent of the population, are living in poverty and 5.9 million children under 18 in the United States live in households where they are unable to consistently access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life.

Psychologist, Tracy Alloway, P.H.D. explains there are 3 great benefits to giving:

1. Get your Dopamine boost! Did you know that giving of your time or volunteering can release the same feel-good sensation as eating chocolate or a candy bar? Dopamine is the feel-good chemical that is linked with pleasurable experiences, such as enjoying a good meal or spending time with a close friend. For example, when we see a chocolate bar, dopamine makes us want to eat it. When we eat it, we feel a rush of dopamine-induced pleasure. Dopamine reinforces behaviors that make us feel really good to make sure that we engage in that behavior again. Brain scans show a surge of dopamine when we give or volunteer our time. Researchers call this “the helper’s high”. So when you volunteer your time or do something good for others you get that same wonderful feel-good sensation.

2. Motives Matter: Volunteering or giving back to the community can seem like a selfless act. But, in fact, people volunteer for a wide range of reasons, from getting out of the house and meeting new people to doing something good for others. A study of over 3000 people found that people who volunteer because they want to help others, live longer than people who don’t volunteer at all. In fact, those mainly for some sort of personal benefit live no longer than non-volunteers.

3. Don’t use your busy schedule as an excuse–giving time can give YOU time: Researchers found that giving away time boosts your own sense of personal competence and efficiency. As a result, it ‘stretches’ our perspective of time in our minds, and makes us more willing to commit to future engagements despite our busy schedules.  (Alloway PH.D, 2013)

So this Thanksgiving do yourself and others a favor, give and give the gift that keeps giving.  Happy Thanksgiving!

~Preston Byrd