Giving: Can Gift Giving Really Make You Healthier?

"We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."

- Winston Churchill 


We all one time or another have heard that giving is something that you should do and maybe you have even heard that it is good for you, but maybe you're still wondering why? It isn't just the churches and non-profits in the world that think you should give, even science shows that it's actually good for your health. Which is why there is even more of a reason for us to be giving ;)..

There are three specific chemicals in your brain that are released during the act of giving. Serotonin, Dopamine, and Oxytocin. These three chemicals make up what they call the happiness triad, and for a good reason.  Serotonin works in conjunction with Dopamine as a reward and relax response. Oxytocin is partially responsible for creating our feeling of empathy and trust in relationships. Not too long ago I was listening to a talk from Simon Sinek where he talks about these three chemicals and why they are ESSENTIAL to our survival as a species. In short, and not nearly as eloquently as he said it; our species has evolved on our ability to do well together and not on our own. These chemicals have helped spur on behaviors that would likely help our "tribe" survive by incentivizing giving help to one another. Dopamine is released when we are in the act of giving, producing a feeling that we want to be able to repeat. Serotonin is released to help us understand, learn, and remember how to get that boost of dopamine again. And oxytocin is released to foster a sense of trust causing our blood pressure to drop and an inhibition of the sympathetic nervous system that allows us to relax and recover. This all happens because our body knows that we were made to live collectively as humans! How awesome is that!?

Last but not least, I have been reading, "The 5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman and there is a section completely dedicated to gift giving. Here is a snapshot:

"The connection between love and gifts is more deeply rooted than most people realize. How old were you the first time you picked a flower or dandelion and gave it to your mom as a present--a way of saying, 'I love you'? How many knickknacks did you create for your parents at camp, in Sunday school, or in art class?

The instincts are there. Harnessing and perfecting those natural inclinations is the key to becoming fluent in the love language of gift giving. 

The notion that delighted your parents all those years ago (and perhaps still does) runs strong in people whose primary love language is gift giving. A gift is something they can hold in their hands as they say, 'Look, he was thinking of me.' Therein lies the appeal. You have to think of someone before you give them a gift. The gift itself is a symbol of that thought. It doesn't matter whether it costs money. What's important is that you thought of them--that you took the time to consider what would make them happier, then followed through."

This piece hit me pretty hard because I struggle with giving monetary and physical gifts. The minimalist in me says that gifts are a waste of time, energy, and resources, but even deeper my heart is beginning to learn that it's honestly the thought that counts. Letting a person know that you "know" them and create something meaningful for them. Money or no money, you can let people know you care about them! 

Thanks for reading and joining me on The Road to Better Health! I would love it if you shared this post with someone you think would benefit for reading this blog, we are so close to 100 subscribers and I want to continue impacting as many lives as I can.

 Check out this infographic by HAPPIFY to have your mind blown by some giving facts!


Practice Gratefulness Now

With thanksgiving tomorrow I have a few things that will leave you happier and healthier for the big day. First and foremost, Thanksgiving is THE day of the year dedicated to gratefulness so you bet I will ask you to do a little exercise. 

When you first wake up Thursday morning I want you to get a pen and paper and to write a list of 3 people you are grateful for and WHY. 

Then guess what. . .

call them. If those people aren't eating a meal with you, I want you to call them and express your gratitude for them being in your life. 

If you WILL see them today, I want you to write a letter to them that you can give to them quietly at some point during the day. Sometimes kind words can really get lost in the mix of everything especially if there isn't separate time to talk with that person 1 on 1. Go on, explain to that person how much they mean to you. 

Not only is this exercise for you to get a little vulnerable and sensitive with someone important to you, it is also for them. To hear words of encouragement, or that they make a difference in your life. They exercise with only continue to build the one thing that all great friendships:


Photo By Cecily Breeding @ Camp Yoga 2017

Photo By Cecily Breeding @ Camp Yoga 2017

Very quickly, if you want to dig deeper into gratitude and want to know a quick way that you can enrich your life with a little bit of gratitude follow the exercise below for a full year! starting on Thanksgiving

  • Buy a journal 
  • Once a week write down 3 things you are grateful for (I prefer Sunday night) 
  • You can be grateful for the same thing more than once 
  • On thanksgiving 2018 tally your top 10 things you are grateful for from the past year
  • Around the dinner table, explain to everyone the challenge and your 10 pieces


This year instead of indulging yourself with all the food you can set your eyes on, I want you to choose ONE and let that food take your attention. So often I feel like on Thanksgiving I get overwhelmed by all the different foods there are. My solution this year? Keep my tunnel vision. 

I'll let you know next week how it goes and I would love to hear your tips for eating healthy over the Thanksgiving holiday!

Photo of Liz in Hawaii in April of this year.

Photo of Liz in Hawaii in April of this year.