The Happiness Manifesto – Part 5 – Give

As I walk into another day, I take a moment to reflect [as suggested in the Happiness Manifesto] and come to the conclusion that I am truly fortunate to be where I am and doing what I love.  I get the outrageous opportunity to make a difference in others’ lives with what I teach and what I do for a living.  That is not something that everyone can claim.

5.  GIVE … do something nice for a someone.  Thank someone.  Smile.  Volunteer your time.  Join a community group.

Science has proven a neurological relationship between the stimulation that the reward centers of our brain receive and any act of mutually cooperative action.   It makes us happy to help others, to reach out, to be in connection with the people around us.  Imagine that … helping others helps ourselves be happier and more fulfilled.

How does that relate to your money?

Well, first I want to caution you about giving – you are not able to give to someone else until you are first meeting all of your own needs.  You know how – when you are traveling in an airplane – they say that “in the unlikely event that there is a loss of cabin pressure, plastic hoses will drop from the ceiling.  Please put yours on first before helping a child or traveling companion.”  The concept is:  it is hard to save your child if you are already unconscious.  Same thing applies to your money.  If you are not going to be able to put food on the table or pay your electric bill, you have no right to be giving money to charities or others.  Even adult children.  Of course, you still have every opportunity to help them or others with your time and skills.

I truly believe that we are here to be eminently successful, vastly powerful and outrageously dedicated to our own health and well-being.  In my view, that means that it is important to do everything in your power to live up to those goals.  One of the things that will ensure your well-being and help you to be amazingly successful is when you have the ability to help others.  It may be through volunteering at the local soup kitchen, working with children, acting on a board of a not-for-profit, watching your neighbors house when they are gone, raising your hand when someone asks for help, playing with a small child, petting a dog, letting someone in front of you in traffic, allowing a person ahead of you in line that seems in a hurry, placing a dollar in the hand of someone that seems needful, and I could go on and on.

There is no small gift.  Every action and choice that helps others brings us a measure of joy, fires those old feel-good neurons and pays it forward in ways that we may never begin to understand.

I have a foolish hope – one that I dream perpetuates for infinity – that every small or large action that I take to help someone is passed on and on and changes some stranger’s life in a positive way that I will never know.  A positive version of the Butterfly Effect, if you will.

Good giving!  I hope that it brings you much happiness.

 

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