Generosity was supposed to be the way of mankind. It was supposed to be natural for us. What’s unfortunate is that almost everyone on the planet can see the virtue in being generous. But when it comes to practicing it in our routine lives, only a handful of us have the time to make it a habit. Perhaps, it is because the definition of generosity has been twisted. Try asking your friends and family members and at least more than half of them would think of it as a selfless act. Generosity is mostly associated with pure love and kindness but when you put a label of selfless on it, there is an implication that you won’t be getting anything out of it. This is what contradicts with another of human nature; the insatiable appetite to receive.
But what if we told you that generosity indeed is not as selfless of an act as some would make you believe. What if you could the single most important thing of your life out of generosity? Wouldn’t it make it a lot easier for you to practice it like a religion on day to day basis? In-Depth research has now shown that being generous translates into happiness for you. Let’s face it; if you are not in pursuit of happiness in your life, then what exactly are you doing? But you don’t have to take our word for it. For that matter, you don’t even have to take the science for granted either. Now that you know that science has linked generosity with happiness, your curious mind may be questioning, “How”? It’s good to be curious. And we are here to answer your how. Following are the five reasons why generosity is most likely to let us experience true happiness.
- Smile Is Contagious
The first and foremost reason why generosity has been linked to happiness in life is the smile that it enables you to put on someone’s face. It’s simple logic. If you are being generous to someone, the least they would do for you in return would give you a smile. Have you ever seen somebody who had a fit of rage or went all gloomy because you were generous to him? We haven’t either.
What’s interesting to know, however, is that a smile isn’t just another one of those emotions which are temporary and fade away just as quickly as they appeared. A smile is actually contagious in nature. It has also been proven by science that when a person sees someone smiling, the identical parts of his own brain are stimulated to increase the chances of him experiencing the same emotion i-e a smile. Considering that a smile is a textbook sign of being happy, you can conclude that being generous increases the likelihood for you to be happy. Think about it, haven’t you been in a situation when you couldn’t stop yourself from smiling just because the other person did it? You can see for yourself. Try to be generous to someone that you are with right now, at this moment. Put a smile on their face and see if you don’t feel like smiling yourself.
- You Did The Right Thing
Simply put, generosity is all about helping others in whatever way you can. Helping others is synonymous to fixing something that was wrong. When a person is having a hard time or is in need, it is more than likely that negative emotions such as despair, helplessness, sadness, hopelessness have surrounded him. When you lend a helping hand to someone in need and pull them out of the vicious cycle of the negative emotions, it feels like fixing something that was wrong. Did you ever fix the router for your mother when she complained about the internet not working? You’d be lying if you said you didn’t have a sense of achievement, though all you did was restart the router. But you fixed a problem that was troubling your mother. That gave you a sense of achievement and like any other achievement, it translated into happiness. This is how generosity or helping others can further promote your own happiness.
- You Widen Your Social Circle
Man is a social animal. Having meaningful social connections is not an option but a necessity for all of us. The effect of social connections can be further elaborated by the fact that isolation is one of the major causes behind mental illnesses including depression. By being generous, you open yourself to a whole new world of social connections. Buying someone a present for their birthday or perhaps for an achievement that they recently accomplished is a guaranteed way to strengthen your relationship with them. A simple act of taking someone for a cup of coffee and having a conversation can end up building lifelong friendships.
By being generous, you get an opportunity to connect with someone at a deeper level. For instance, in the case of charity, you might be making a donation for the orphan children residing in a different continent, but your donation enables you to make a connection with them. You can get a better sense of it by doing some voluntary work. A few hours of your time helps you make and strengthen new social connections with the other volunteers as well as with the people that you are helping. Considering that being social satisfies one of our natural requirements, it is more like to make us happy in the long run.
- The Person That You See In The Mirror
Generosity further gives us an opportunity to be the person that we always wanted to be. Just like it’s natural for the guys to think of themselves as handsome or the girls to see themselves as pretty, it is natural for a common human being to think of himself as generous and kind. Little acts of generosity strengthen our belief that we are indeed good people. It creates a positive image of ourselves and makes us be proud of the person that we are. By being generous, we are essentially giving ourselves a reason to truly love who we are that eventually promotes a sense of inner satisfaction and contention with life. Once you are satisfied with your personality and see yourself as a good person, you can experience a true sense of happiness; happiness that comes naturally from within and is not associated with the external factors. The permanence of this happiness is inevitable since it is no longer externally driven.
- As You Sow, So Shall You Reap
Last but not the least on our list of why generosity is the key to happiness in life can be explained impeccably with this proverb. As you sow, so shall you reap. As per psychology, reciprocity is one of the strongest factors which drive motivation. When you are being generous with someone, you are directly or indirectly sensitizing his brain to treat you in the same fashion. For instance, imagine that you helped someone who was struggling with math at school. With your help, he writes the exam successfully. In the next midterm, you find yourself struggling with economics. There are three to four people in the class who are brilliant at economics, one of whom is the student that you helped with math. Who do you think is the most likely to help you with economics? Simply put, if you want someone to be generous with you, the easiest way is to be generous with them.
The best part is that generosity doesn’t confine itself to the two people. If you helped someone who never found an opportunity to help you back, would always be in search of an opportunity to help someone that he can. Why? Because a sense of reciprocity is fueling his motivation. Therefore, a little act of generosity from you can essentially put into action a virtuous cycle of motivating people to be generous with each other that essentially makes this world a better place for everyone in the long run. Wouldn’t it make you happy to be a contributor to this virtuous cycle?
In light of the information mentioned above, it is only fair to conclude that generosity and happiness are indeed linked. Psychologically speaking, there are a few too many explanations why being generous can come back around and make you happy. And here’s the best part; a little act of kindness can make you happy and research also shows that people are much more likely to be generous when they are in a good mood i-e happy. An implication of this is that you don’t have to consistently fuel a sense of generosity in yourself. It and happiness are sufficient triggers for each other. It’s a balanced relationship that has the potential of making this world a better place not only for yourself but for the people around you as well.