Forget chocolate, drugs, puppies, exercise, prozac, or anything else that makes you happy.
Giving money (and your time) is a great way to express your personal gratitude. but it makes you feel good. Paul Lamb, in his post "The Year of Living Givingly" points to this article at SF Gate, that says charitable giving offers the donor significant and positive health and cognitive benefits. There's an added benefit, people who donate generate more dopamine, the "happy" neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, craving, and reward. Hmm ... maybe that's why some of us become "giving junkies" in the best sense of the word.
There are benefits to the nonprofits too because having a predictible source of income in difficult economic times makes its it easier to plan. And a regular, ongoing contribution, even small contributions of $10 can make a difference.
Stowe Boyd in his post "Nature or Nurture in Social Networks" points to this research about how your friends through social networks can affect your mood. He sums it up, "Looks like we are who we hang with, for better or worse, and to the degree that we can control where we wind up networked we should try to move toward those that are doing the fun stuff."
So, get happy, feel good, and donate $10 to the Sharing Foundation to celebrate my birthday. Make a contribution to my birthday cause and help me leverage some matching dollars. If you don't want to donate through Facebook, here are some other ways to wish me happy birthday.