It's Better to Give Than Receive

It's Better to Give Than Receive

This year, traditions came pretty quickly.  The standard decorations went up for Christmas, although we went all out and bought one of those green and red laser lights for the oak tree in our front yard.  My favorite part was driving through the lights at night because it made the inside of my truck look like it was going into Hyperspace, just like in Star Wars.  The presents went under the tree as usual, and we made preparations for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, just like millions of other people.  




We all look forward to receiving things.  Gifts, diplomas, test scores, certificates of completion, kisses, retirement, food, etc...all these things we look forward to receiving and that's ok, to a point.  Working and receiving things activates our dopamine centers in our brains.  Dopamine is the reason you get up in the morning and function, hopefully brushing your teeth and taking care of yourself in the process.  Humans run on dopamine.  Dopamine is released when you complete a task and receive something.  However, as we get older, the dopamine receptors in our brains start to deteriorate and become harder and harder to activate.  But this is not a death sentence.  Just like any other dimension in the resilience chain, we can activate and build our dopamine centers by doing things for others, giving.


Giving without an expectation for reward activates our dopamine centers more than receiving.  When we help people by giving them things, in this case things include our time and energy, our dopamine goes through the roof.  Moreover, we feel a deep sense of satisfaction and connection with others.  We are connected emotionally to others.  This stems from our primitive sense of community where we used to depend on others to survive.  Activating these primitive senses by helping others (without anything in return) gives us an abundance of dopamine.  Giving is definitely better than receiving. 




Doing something for others this week is your goal.  We have said this before but now you know the physiological and anthropological reason why to do it.  This is very powerful.  Remember that giving to others is engrained both in our physiology and in our DNA.  Whenever you start to think about doing something for yourself, unless it is health related of course, think about how you can do or buy something for someone else.  It does not have to be expensive our time consuming.  Even picking up the phone and calling someone that you have not talked to in  a long time just to see how they are doing counts.  Give of yourself without any expectation of return is the key.


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.  

Dr. N