Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Generosity makes you happy

If you spend as little as $5 per day for the benefit of others, you will automatically be happier.
"We wanted to test our theory that how people spend their money is at least as important as how much money they earn," said Elizabeth Dunn, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia.

They asked their 600 volunteers first to rate their general happiness, report their annual income and detail their monthly spending including bills, gifts for themselves, gifts for others and donations to charity.

"Regardless of how much income each person made, those who spent money on others reported greater happiness, while those who spent more on themselves did not," Dunn said in a statement.

Dunn's team also surveyed 16 employees at a company in Boston before and after they received an annual profit-sharing bonus of between $3,000 and $8,000.

"Employees who devoted more of their bonus to pro-social spending experienced greater happiness after receiving the bonus, and the manner in which they spent that bonus was a more important predictor of their happiness than the size of the bonus itself," they wrote in their report, published in the journal Science.

"Finally, participants who were randomly assigned to spend money on others experienced greater happiness than those assigned to spend money on themselves," they said.
Something else I've learned: generous people cope with their own mortality much better than others. In the years I've ministered to the terminally ill and people dealing with aging-toward-mortality, invariably the ones who have been generous towards others - routinely, not just for birthdays or holidays - finally die more peaceably than non-generous people.

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