It Is Better To Give Than To Receive

by Jessalyn Lau

It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

I remember hearing my mother tell me that it is better to give than to receive. As a young child, I found this very difficult to believe. It was hard enough to share my toys but then to be told that it was ‘good for me’ to give some of my toys away to children who were “less fortunate than me” left me confused. I liked my toys and enjoyed playing with them – why would I want to give them away? I also wondered how could the giving of my time to help someone else be better than playing with my friends. Or how could the feeling of giving be better than the feeling I had when I received Christmas presents?

"“it’s not all about you”. Obviously the essence of giving isn’t about me, but what is it really about?"

Now if my mother were reading this she would tell me that “it’s not all about you”. Obviously the essence of giving isn’t about me, but what is it really about? These famous words have been spoken throughout history and I started to wonder how true they really were.

I asked Co-Founder and Healthcare Administrator of Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience, Michelle Liow, why giving is important, so important in fact that it became part of the mission statement at HPN. She explained that, “We here at HPN believe that giving is an outward expression of an inward feeling of gratitude for that which we have also been given. We understand that giving not only helps the receiver but also brings about a personal satisfaction unlike anything else that we can produce.”

Some people say that giving is how God demonstrates his love for us. Others say that it will help you live longer. And some plainly state that giving just makes you happy! To explore this further, I asked Dr. Kore Liow, Co-Founder and CEO of Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience what the science is behind giving.

He shared that in an experiment conducted using a functional MRI, it was proven that the pleasure, reward, and happiness centers of the brain lit up more when the study participants gave away $10 rather than received $10. It was also discovered that the pleasure they experienced from giving lasted longer than the pleasure experienced when receiving. Other studies showed that regardless of income level, those who spent money on others reported greater happiness, while those who spent more on themselves did not.

"My challenge to you is to live today inspired and be a blessing
to those around you. "

It’s important to realize that giving can take on many forms. Giving of finances is usually one of the first things to come to mind, but you can also give by encouraging good deeds, recognizing someone’s efforts, showing kindness to others, and supporting those in need. It is important to value the time, effort, and presence of others and show patience, empathy, and understanding. My challenge to you is to live today inspired and be a blessing to those around you.

Below are photos of HPN’s staff showing their support at different volunteer events. Last year, HPN participated in over a dozen different community events. This does not include the generous volunteered time that our faculty and staff dedicated towards teachings of students, residents, interns, and healthcare professionals.

2020 Virtual Freedom Run and Walk Event – Epilepsy Foundation of Hawaii

2020 St. Marianne Cope Walk and Wellness Fair – St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii

2019 Convoy of Hope

2018 MS Symposium – National MS Society

2017 Hawaii Parkinson Walk – Hawaii Parkinson Association

We asked our staff what their favorite volunteer experience was and what made it so memorable. Here’s what they had to say!

Volunteering at The Shelter

The Shelter seeks to provide solutions to Hawaii’s homeless problem that are founded on Biblical principles and centered on a God-centered life as the core of the solution. What made the experiences memorable is that my husband and I got to share life and love with those who were rebuilding their lives. We built such strong connections and relationships. We had many opportunities to just sit and listen - hear their stories, where they came from and what they went through, which gave us a deeper perspective on life. From our time at The Shelter, it opened other opportunities to serve and give - some of which include opening our home to foster care and [serving on] The Board of Directors for The Shelter.

Helping out at a youth camp

My favorite volunteer experience was helping out at a youth camp with the church. I was still rather new to the youth ministry, and have never been to a youth camp here in the USA/Hawaii. Coming from Singapore, I was unsure of how teenagers and camps are like here in Hawaii/USA. I was really apprehensive and a little intimidated. I was already 25 years old and thought I was over camping and roughing it out. Thank God he turned it into such a great experience! It was at Camp Erdman YMCA at the beautiful North Shore for 5 days. I had a wonderful group of teenagers who were enthusiastic, willing and cohesive. I had so much fun leading the group. Ever since then, I have been volunteering at youth camps annually. Even though it is taxing and time consuming, I really enjoy the fun and being able to make a difference for the youth.

Public Outreach

When I was growing up my mother worked for Catholic Social and we did a lot of public outreach for the homeless community in Alaska. Alcohol is a HUGE problem in Alaska [plus it’s really cold]. So we provided services to their community through food drives, clothing drives, etc. and knowing that what we were doing was literally saving lives was amazing. We worked very closely with the homeless shelter in Anchorage called Brother Francis Shelter and we would go there and serve food and hand out clothing which always brought a smile to their faces and they always showed great appreciation.

My mother also used to do blood draws for Health Fairs and would take me with her when I was a toddler. When people were getting ready to get their blood drawn, I would pretend to give them shots and stuff which really made a difference by easing the stress of having to get poked with needles. There was also a shelter called Clare House in Anchorage for abused and battered women and we would go there and offer babysitting services for the kids so the mothers could go to group therapy or go do group activities. We would do a toy drive for the kids at Clare House every year which took a LOT of coordination and made the Christmas season so much better for the affected families.
These were all very rewarding experiences! They were so memorable because we were truly making immediate differences in the lives of those right in front of us.