Helping others can truly increase your level of happiness. In research published in the Journal of Social Psychology, they proved that altruistic people have higher levels of psychological health and happiness and lower levels of stress.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” ― Charles Dickens
Would you share your bonus with others?
There’s also an interesting Stanford study of two groups of managers who did different things with their bonuses. The first group gave it to charity. The other one kept the bonus for themselves. It turned out that the charitable managers achieved higher levels of happiness.
It looks like having an outward-pointing intention to help others has many benefits.
Giving is better than receiving, said Jim Rohn, “because it starts the receiving process”.
Generosity among students
There was a similar study concerning young people. Each student got $20. The choice was to keep it or give it away for charity. Results mirrored the ones from the manager study.
Life as an act of generosity
Professor Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology said that happy life has an element of unconditional service to others. To be truly happy, you have to serve the cause bigger than yourself. That’s confirmed by Victor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning.
Elizabeth Dunn from the British Columbia University claims that an individual act of charity will make you feel happier in the long term.
“If it becomes a way of life, than it might positively affect your level of happiness in the long term” she says.
How to practice generosity in your everyday life
1. Commit to a substantial act of charity
Studies show that it’s better to commit to one, substantial act of charity each week than to do small charitable work a few times a week. The act of service needs to be deliberate. You need to plan for it and commit to it. But try to be charitable towards others as well. It might just make everyone happier.
2. Getting involved in charities
Look for charities in your area. Get involved. Do something nice to other people. You will support a good cause, but also get social engagement which is essential for happiness.
3. Make a decision to be charitable
Make a decision that from now on you’ll be more charitable. Even a small amount of money given to a homeless person or a street musician can make you feel happier. Try it today.
4. Sharing your financial resources
Give away a part of your income to charity. Studies show that it’s better if you give cash or a check, rather than automatically send the money through online banking. It has more tangibility to it.
5. Giving presents and making others feel important
“The fragrance of the rose lingers on the hand that casts it”. – Shakespeare
Research shows that even a small change in your daily spending ($10-$20) is enough to increase your happiness. Making others feel important by giving a well-thought-out present or having an experience together is another excellent way to increase your well-being.
6. Be generous with praise
Your offerings, however, don’t have to be material. Each person has a strong, unconscious need for being valued by others, so praise them often. Admire people for their accomplishments and be grateful for all of the happy moments they bring to your life.
7. Making others feel important
Buy small things that will make others feel happy. Cast a beautiful rose on your beloved. Get a bar of that mouth-watering Belgian chocolate (eating dark chocolate also boosts levels of wellbeing). Share some Marsala wine with a valued friend. Get two tickets for the long-awaited movie. You don’t have to be rich to enjoy the good life.
8. Surprise others
Most of everyday life is very predictable, so if someone cares enough to surprise us, we usually remember it for years. Is there any holiday or anniversary coming soon? You just might make it special for someone close to you. Make it creative, make it memorable.
9. Give thanks
Give compliments to the people you truly respect and admire. Express your feelings. Sometimes just a few words can make all the difference, so if there’s a glow of thankfulness in you, let it shine.
How did you like this article about the relationship between generosity and happiness? Please tell me what you think and leave a comment below.