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The Awesome Benefits of Giving.

Christmas, the season of giving, is almost upon us!

The tradition of giving gifts during the most wonderful time of the year started with the Three Wise Men, who went to visit Baby Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem over two millennia ago. They worshipped and honored the newborn Savior with precious offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Over the years, a single figure from the North Pole continues that tradition.

Santa Claus, the old, plump, bearded, jolly guy travels every Christmas Eve in his red suit to deliver gifts to children all over the world. Aboard his sleigh pulled by nine flying reindeer, he hops from roof to roof, enters houses through chimneys, and fills the stockings hanging by the fireplace with lots of presents.

Today, thanks mainly to the parents and godparents, the practice of gift-giving during the Yuletide season has been lovingly preserved and is still widely observed. In their effort to capture the true spirit of Christmas, people take the time to make others happy and feel loved by giving them carefully chosen presents. The price tag doesn't matter to the receiver. The important thing is that the gift comes from the heart of the giver.

In the act of gift-giving, however, the recipient is not the only one who gets to reap the gains. Believe it or not, benevolence renders more benefits to the giver.

Here are the reasons why.

1. Giving makes the giver happy. According to a 2006 study, giving 'activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection and trust, creating a warm glow effect. Scientists also believe that altruistic behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the helper's high.' This is probably the reason why giving often leaves you with a sense of immense joy and satisfaction and, yes, with a silly grin on your face, too.

2. Giving improves the giver's physical, mental and physiological health. Stress, depression and lack of self-esteem have all been linked with heart disease, stroke, and other health conditions. Remarkable improvements in mood and self-esteem as the immediate result of an act of generosity, therefore, lead to better health and enhanced wellbeing.

3. Giving spurs a ripple effect that triggers a culture of giving and sharing. Studies by sociologists suggest that when you give to someone, that someone will most likely respond by giving to someone else. That is what we have often heard as the pay-it-forward attitude. Your compassion and generosity will inspire others to be compassionate and generous, too. Ultimately, your little act of kindness will be instrumental in creating a community where selflessness and magnanimity reign.

4. Giving evokes gratitude and an attitude of thanksgiving. A gift or a good deed can elicit feelings of gratitude - both from the giver (for having been blessed with the means and willingness to give) and from the receiver (for being at the receiving end of such a kind gesture). Gratitude develops your personality. You become more optimistic, less materialistic, more spiritual, less grumpy, more companionable, and less self-centered. Indeed, a grateful heart is a joyful heart!

5. Giving promotes positive social connections. Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book The How of Happiness, wrote, 'Being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably, and this fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.' Giving also helps you improve your existing relationships, develop new ones, and establish stronger social connections.

6. Giving is in accordance with our Christian duty. Needless to say, being a giver will get you on God's good side. According to the Bible, 'he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.' For non-Christians, giving is also an integral part of what they call karma.

7. Giving may also serve other people. On this season of giving, help people in need. Hallmark Philippines, through its project Hallmark for L.I.F.E. (Leukemic Indigents Fund Endowment), is working to alleviate the condition of indigent children with leukemia and to raise public awareness about the truth that this disease can be cured through continuous treatment. It may be just be a tote bag, t-shirt, mug or desk calendar that you will purchase, but for these kids, it will be a message that they won't be alone in their battle. Check out their 2018 Collection and buy L.I.F.E. products now at bookstores nationwide.

Hallmark also offers a wide selection of greeting cards, gift wrappers, gift boxes, gift accessories, wine bags, and even decors that will surely help you make the act of giving more meaningful this season.

Finally, remember that for many recipients, how the gift is presented to them is as important as the gift itself. So, add a beautiful personal touch to the tradition of gift-giving by wrapping your presents as thoughtfully, tastefully and creatively as possible. Happy wrapping, everyone!

And don't forget to spread the good news that giving is, indeed, more rewarding than receiving!
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Dec 18, 2017
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