“Is it Really More Blessed to Give Than to Receive?”
By: Lynette Ecord

   In our family we have a Thanksgiving tradition of joining hands in a circle around the dinner table and each one sharing something that they are thankful for. You and your family probably have your own traditions, but one thing is sure– this is the season when our thoughts and conversation shift to what we’re thankful for.
   Psychologists and counselors know that taking time to be thankful has benefits for well-being. Not only does gratitude go along with more optimism, less anxiety and depression, and greater goal attainment, but it’s also associated with fewer symptoms of illness.

      In recent years, researchers have been making connections between the internal experience of gratitude and the external practice of altruism (selfless concern for the well-being of others). Studies have shown that the more grateful people are, the more altruistic they tend to be.  In fact, MRI scans taken of the brain show that the neural connection between gratitude and giving is very deep, both literally and figuratively.

Neuroimaging Illuminates How Gratitude Lights Up the Brain
Source: Psychology Today

   Researchers compared how active the reward regions of the brain were during “charity-gain” versus “self-gain” situations. The participants previously identified by a questionnaire as more grateful and more altruistic had a stronger response in these reward regions of the brain when they saw charity gaining money. It felt good for them to see charities do well. For the people with more grateful and altruistic tendencies, it seems the ventromedial prefrontal cortex of the brain assigns more value to charitable donations than to receiving money for themselves. So in terms of the brain’s reward response, it really can be true that giving is better than receiving.
   As you go through the holidays – whether with a Thanksgiving banquet spread out for friends and family, a busy shopping day on Black Friday or a pile of Christmas presents – taking time to practice gratitude can help make giving the most rewarding activity of all.
 “I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35.

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If you answered 'yes' to any of the above questions, then it may be time to review and update your Will.

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