Your Foolproof Guarantee to Happiness

Your Foolproof Guarantee to Happiness

by Bill High

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?

There are two new published works [1] coming out of a five year intensive study from the University of Notre Dame – The Science of Generosity Initiative. Here are the findings:

  1. While people would assume that getting things for ourselves would make us happy, it doesn’t.
  2. To the contrary generosity is “positively associated with greater happiness” (defining generosity as regular practices of giving—whether through time or money).
  3. 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.
  4. 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? Prescription: generosity. Use the comments to tell me how you can practice generosity.

[1] Christian Smith & Hilary Davidson, The Paradox of Generosity (Oxford 2014); Patricia Snell Herzog & Heather Price, American Generosity: Who Gives & Why (Oxford 2016).

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Published August 30, 2016

Topics: Generosity

GenerosityHappinessResearch

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