Generosity is key to happiness. This is well documented. As Winston Churchill once aptly stated:
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Today there is much scientific research that supports the notion that giving one’s time, talents and treasures is a great pathway to finding purpose, transcending difficulties, and finding fulfilment and meaning in life.
We thought it would be a good chance to remind ourselves why generosity is so important and how it can change your life.
- Practising generosity is a mental health principle. Your life is the sum of your habits. What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray. If you practice generosity, it becomes part of the fabric of you as a human being, and let’s be honest a world filled with generous people is a good world to live in.
- Generosity makes us happy. Giving our time and money to others gives us an emotional boost. Why? According to researchers, it’s because feeling good is a product of doing good. It’s built into our neurochemistry.
- Generosity makes us healthier. Countless studies have found that generosity, both volunteering and charitable donations, benefits young and old physically and psychologically. The benefits of giving are significant, according to those studies: lower blood pressure, lower risk of dementia, less anxiety and depression, reduced cardiovascular risk, and overall greater happiness.
- Generosity makes us human and keeps life going. Humans are an inherently social species. We have survived and thrived because we take care of one another. Generosity is, in part, a survival instinct. Even the simple act of sharing food or shelter with another person is an example of humanity’s natural generosity. If we were an overwhelmingly selfish species, we would’ve gone extinct a long time ago. By giving to one another, we have prolonged the survival of the human community.
- Generosity promotes a social connection and improves relationships. This is because being generous and kind encourages us to perceive others in a more positive light and fosters a sense of community, a feeling of interconnectedness.
So if we want to make generosity a habit, how do we do that?
- Make a commitment! Decide to try and make ‘generosity’ an essential part of our lives for say 30 days. A month is a good block of time to commit to a change.
- Start simple. Don’t try to change in one day completely. It is easy to get over-motivated and take on too much. Think about simple ways to integrate generosity into our daily routines. Perhaps set up a regular donation to a chosen charity, or be more appreciative of simple things and say thank you more often- yes appreciation is part of generosity.
- Accept the generosity of others. Far too often we think of generosity as something we have to practice externally, but integrating it into our lives means also accepting it from others. It makes us more aware of all the ways to practice generosity and doesn’t limit us to our world view.
- Practice empathy. Empathy is a powerful emotion. Empathy involves understanding another person’s situation from their perspective. As such, we must be able to place ourselves in someone else’s shoes and feel what they are feeling, without judging them. You don’t have to experience the pain or problems of another person to be able to understand how difficult a situation may be.
So as we ponder the health benefits and ways in which generosity can change our lives, we’d like to offer a suggestion. Call up a girlfriend who you’ve meant to catch up with and arrange a time to do just that. Then head down to Countdown or New World and purchase a bottle of The Sisters wine.