We spend most of our lives waiting for our “when.” When I get that promotion. When I get that new house. When I get the kids in preschool.When I get the kids off to college.When I win the lottery. And so it goes.The idea is that whenever I reach my “when,” then I’ll be happy.
But there is in fact a guaranteed foolproof way to happiness. It comes without regard to how much money you have or where you live. Curious?
Two new published works came from of a five-year intensive study from the University of Notre Dame – The Science of Generosity Initiative: Christian Smith & Hilary Davidson’s The Paradox of Generosity; and Patricia Snell Herzog & Heather Price’s American Generosity: Who Gives & Why.
(Gospel Coalition posted a thought-provoking review of The Paradox of Generosity when it came out in 2014.)
Generosity Initiative findings
Here’s a brief summary of the researchers’ key findings:
- While people would assume that getting things for ourselves would make us happy, it doesn’t.
- To the contrary, generosity is “positively associated with greater happiness” (defining generosity as regular practices of giving—whether through time or money).
- 4 out of 10 Americans who say they give 10% of their income report they are “very happy.” Whereas those who don’t give 10% report a remarkable 10% decline in happiness.
- Moreover, the study demonstrated that those who are generous are statistically more likely to be physically healthy, emotionally healthy, and have a greater purpose in life.
The researchers note: “…practices of generosity—such as financial giving, volunteering and relational and neighborly generosity—have the capacity to shape people in the processes of human formation over time.” Or perhaps stated more plainly, “People actually grow by giving themselves away.”
Want to be happy? Here’s your prescription: practice generosity.
Learn more about being generous as a family with my PDF guide on Giving As A Family!
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Published August 30, 2016