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Top-Shelf Tip No. 249:

"When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed."

Maya Angelou

The Best Gift Is Serving Others

If you've seen the holiday classic Scrooged, you're familiar with the message: It's better to put others before yourself. The comical retelling of Charles Dickens' 1843 novella asserts that materialism, loneliness and other ills wouldn't exist if we placed service above self.

Entrepreneur Michael Pietrzak asserts that serving others isn't only the right thing to do—it's a sure way to get what you want, as well. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share four ways you benefit by serving others.

Material benefits. Effective salespeople know a sale happens only when they solve a customer's problem. That's why top performers frequently go the extra mile. By serving others, Pietrzak says professionals enjoy repeat business and word of mouth. Happy customers stick around longer and are more likely to tell their colleagues about you. When you selflessly serve a potential customer—giving them something with no expectation of return—you make it easier for them to buy from you, says Pietrzak. When the gift is truly valuable, you establish your company as a credible authority.

Mood benefits. Science confirms that serving others makes you feel great. Pietrzak says that when you give, you get many rewards, including greater self-confidence and an increase in feel-good hormones.

That's because the simple act of helping another person produces neurotransmitters such as oxytocin. When our brains get hit with oxytocin, we want more. Serving is addictive. Pietrzak adds that spending on others makes you happy. Psychologists found that adults who spent even $5 on others created more positive emotions than when they received money.

Health benefits. Science has confirmed what the personal development community has known for a long time: A healthy mind leads to a healthy body. Now we're finding out that good giving habits also improve your physical health. Pietrzak says that those who volunteer more than 100 hours a year (about two hours a week) have better health. Research shows that when someone facing chronic pain volunteers to serve others who suffer with similar challenges—say chemotherapy—their own pain lessens. We lessen our own suffering by doing the same for others.

Relationship benefits. Serving others improves your relationships. Due to the Law of Reciprocity, when you help someone, they want to help you back, and vice versa. Pietrzak says that when we carry out this dance of "you scratch my back I scratch yours" enough times, and prove ourselves to be trustworthy enough to stick to the agreement, our reputation improves. We become reliable, not just a constant taker.

Serving others also helps people get along better. College students who performed community service were better able to work cooperatively and resolved conflicts faster. Even in cases where two people don't like each other much, we can often get their help by simply doing something for them first, or giving them a gift.

During the holiday season, it certainly feels good to give. In the year ahead, look for ways to serve those around you. You might not seek anything in return, but you're likely to get it.

PCT takes a break for the Christmas holiday. Look for the next issue on December 26.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Michael Pietrzak is a mindset and habits coach to entrepreneurs. He founded So You Want to Write? Inc., which helps writers improve and get published.