This morning, while I was contemplating a blog topic, I read some research about how generosity makes us happier. The study “finds that people who pledged to practice generosity showed greater increases in self-reported happiness. This is a connection that correlated on a neural level with changes in key brain activity.”
If you’re a generous person, this information will come as no surprise. You know how good it feels to give. Whether you’re giving away clothes, cash, or taking soup to a sick friend, giving is good. The best part of giving is offering before you are asked. Knowing intuitively, for example, that your friend needs a ride to a doctor’s appointment and offering to drive her can be nothing short of a miracle to the recipient.
On the flip side, knowing how good it feels to give can make it easier to ask for help. This is something to keep in mind the next time you need some assistance. Instead of expecting a friend to read your mind, just ask. If it’s at all possible, most people are happy to lend a hand.
Generosity = Random Acts of Kindness
For me, giving falls into the “random acts of kindness” category. The source of this concept is attributed to writer Anne Herbert, who wrote it on a placemat in Sausalito, California, in 1982. The phrase “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” is based on the commonly used phrase “random acts of violence and senseless acts of cruelty.” Herbert’s adaptation caught on, and the concept has been embraced by individuals and organizations around the globe.
There’s even a Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17, and it has grown in popularity each year. If you’re short on ways to contribute, simply Google the topic. You’ll find ideas for giving, as well as a list of organizations that can benefit from your support.
You can also start being generous—without spending a dime—by giving your time, your talent, or your words. Sincere compliments, appreciation, thanks, encouragement, and expressions of love and support are some of the best ways to give.
Similarly, speaking to others with honesty and respect—and perhaps giving them the benefit of the doubt when they say something that pushes your buttons—is a great way to live generously. Imagine how pleasant the world would be if generosity and kindness were the focus of all communication.
For fun, take some time today to list ways you can practice being more generous with your thoughts, words, and deeds. Share them here or on our Facebook page.
Jan Fishler, MA, is currently co-authoring a new book, Don’t Stop Now, Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life (DontStopNow.us). She is also the author of Searching for Jane, Finding Myself (An Adoption Memoir), and has written several articles about alternative health and PTSD. You can learn more about Jan at www.JanFishler.net.
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