Why Do We Feel More Generous at Christmas?

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” 
Steve MaraboliLife, the Truth, and Being Free


Have you ever noticed how quick most of us are during the Christmas holidays to greet each other with a smile, donate time or money to organizations or even spend time with family and friends baking?  Why does this holiday bring out the generous spirit in us?  The word “generosity” dates back to its Latin translation “noble birth” and has transformed through the times into its present meaning of “liberality in giving”.  Researchers have found that most people are generous during the holidays because it is the time of year that we connect with others socially – whether it is a Christmas party with co-workers, family returning home, or spending time with friends.  When we feel connected to others, it increases our sense of empathy towards others – whether or not we know them.


Generosity is contagious.  Scientists have shown that one single act of kindness creates the opportunity for 3 more random acts of kindness.  When we gives to others, it makes us happy and by witnessing the act of being generous to others, it makes other people want to feel happy as well, so they tend to give.


According to First Capital Cashflor, more than 38% of Americans interviewed advise that they will donate during the holiday season.  41% of women are more generous during the Christmas season, compared to 35% of men.  Interestingly enough, 43% of 18-24 year olds interviewed stated that they will be giving during the holidays.


Studies have shown that people are more willing to help a single individual compared to many.  The science behind this is actually due to the “bystander effect”.  People are more likely to donate when they see the video of a child without food, compared to dozens of children going hungry.  For one child, YOU can make a difference, and yet you alone would be able to assist the group of hungry kids, so you are more apt to save the one child.  People will give more to save 80% of 100 lives at risk than they will to save 20% of 1,000 lives at risk, because they feel that their efforts would be futile when it involves more people.  This is often referred to as the “futility mindset”.


Why be generous?  It causes happiness.  Since the earliest of times, the good person is often the happiest.  With a survey of 30,000 Americans conducted by Newsweek, those would gave to charity were 43% more likely to say that they were “very happy” about their lives compared to those who did not give.

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