Welcome to the Giving Season! As November and December unfold, we find ourselves immersed in the joy of selecting or creating thoughtful gifts for friends and family, alongside extending our generosity to various charitable causes. The timeless wisdom of “Tis better to give than to receive” takes on added significance during these holiday months, especially as we navigate the intricate journey of Midlife. It is during this stage that a deep-seated desire to give back, free from expectations, comes to the forefront—a phenomenon recognized as generativity, a term crafted by the revered developmental psychologist Erik Erikson.

Photo by Any Lane: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-person-hiding-a-gift-5728187/Yet, amidst the hustle and bustle of this season, let’s delve deeper into the profound impact of intrinsic motivation on our giving-back endeavors. Intrinsic motivation, driven by personal fulfillment and a sincere yearning to make a positive impact, serves as a powerful force, empowering individuals to engage in acts of kindness and generosity authentically.

Contrary to the misconception that impactful giving is reserved for those at the zenith of their careers, many in Midlife may postpone acts of kindness due to a perceived lack of knowledge on how to meaningfully contribute during this phase. The truth is, regardless of your field or career stage, your accumulated experiences and unique skills carry immeasurable worth, making each individual’s capacity to give back both significant and meaningful.

As we navigate the giving season, let’s consider how intrinsic motivation can guide our actions. Instead of viewing giving as a grand gesture, recognize that every act of kindness, regardless of size, holds the potential to make a difference. Whether it’s offering guidance to a colleague, mentoring someone embarking on a career change, or volunteering for a cause close to your heart, these acts are fueled by a genuine desire to contribute, making them inherently rewarding.

Intrinsic motivation encourages us to look beyond traditional Philanthropy. (Intrinsic motivation refers to engaging in an activity or pursuing a goal for the inherent satisfaction and enjoyment derived from the activity itself, rather than for external rewards or pressures.) When a person is intrinsically motivated, the motivation to participate in an activity comes from within, driven by personal interest, curiosity, or a sense of accomplishment. It allows us to find personal meaning in our contributions, whether through passing on values in our communities, sharing skills and knowledge in various settings, or creating a positive impact within our circles of family and friends.

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We all possess unique skills and talents, and the journey of giving back can commence at any stage of life, including Midlife. Intrinsic motivation becomes the guiding light, infusing warmth and authenticity into our endeavors to contribute meaningfully to the world around us during this giving season and beyond.

As we embrace the giving season, let’s nurture our intrinsic motivation, allowing it to lead us in ways that resonate with our passions, bringing a profound sense of fulfillment and warmth to our acts of generosity. (This is a great time to become a paid subscriber!)

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Originally Published on https://deborahheiserphd.substack.com/

Deborah Heiser, PhD The Right Side of 40

Deborah Heiser, PhD is an Applied Developmental Psychologist with a specialty in Aging. I'm a researcher, TEDx speaker, contributor for Psychology Today, Substack blogger, CEO of The Mentor Project, and adjunct professor of Psychology.

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