What is the measure of happiness? Many of us think that happiness comes from having more – money and material possessions. What if I told you that having more doesn’t necessarily make you happier? Instead, giving more could be the key to leading a happier life. Have you ever given someone a gift you know they would love, and take the time to look at how their face brightens up upon receiving your thoughtful present? I’m sure that seeing that glow of delight on their face also brought a smile to yours, and warmth in your heart.
Many of us tend to overlook the simple joy we get from giving, choosing instead to focus on material gains. After all, we’ve always been told since childhood that ‘making it big’ in life means getting a good job and earning enough money to live affluently. Interestingly enough though, many studies have shown that people who spend on others are happier than people who spend on themselves. Now, it’s not so much about the spending itself but the act of giving that makes people happy, and here’s how you can gain happiness from giving.
Give More, Want Less
Before we give, we need to agree that our reason for giving is because we want to give, and not just because we want something in return. If you give and expect something in return, you might end up disappointed if you don’t receive anything. Instead, try to lead a lifestyle free from wants; when we adopt a ‘give more, want less’ mindset, we begin to give because we want to give instead of giving with the hopes of getting something in return. By wanting less, we also find ourselves pleasantly surprised by anything we happen to receive in return. When we give more and want less, it is through the joy of those who receive our generosity – whether through monetary aid, volunteer work, or just time spent with someone in need of company, that we begin to find ourselves becoming happier over time.
Find Your Passion
Find a cause that you are passionate about helping, it could be anything from animals, to orphans, to homeless people. Once you find your passion, give back with love. Giving should come from the heart and it’s always much easier for us to give if we are passionate about it. When we give to a cause we care about, it will naturally make us happier than giving to a cause that is not quite what we truly care about. Your generosity is not measured by how much you give, but by the amount of love and care you put into giving. So when you find your passion, you’ll be able to give more, and in the process, find more joy through giving.
Be Proactive, not Reactive
In the same vein as finding your passion before giving, it’s good to be proactive about giving rather than being reactive. For those of us who only give back after much prompting, it never feels good. This is because you are giving in response rather than of your own will. I’m sure you know the feeling, when your friends ask you to join them in donating to a fundraiser for a cause you’ve never even heard of. You may end up being persuaded to give, but you definitely wouldn’t walk away from the situation feeling good about yourself. As most people give reactively, their experiences tend to be less than joyful. However, if you take the first step of your own accord, and give willingly to a cause you care about, you will feel that warm fuzzy feeling from having helped someone in need.
Don’t be Guilt-tripped into Giving
There are charities and causes you might not necessarily believe in but you end up feeling bad when someone passionately tells you more about their cause. It may be your friends who cajole you into adopting a tree in the middle of a dessert oasis far away from you, or a random kind hearted activist with a tin and a good cause for children from a faraway land. Whatever it is, there’s no point giving to a random cause because you feel bad for not giving, or simply because you think it’s the right thing you should do. If we give out of guilt it might be a begrudging charity, and you will not feel good about giving. Most of us tend to give back only after a guilt-trip, resulting in a lack of commitment to the cause and negative feelings toward giving.
If you haven’t been getting warm fuzzy feelings from the act of giving, chances are that you’re doing it wrongly, either through a guilt-trip or being prompted to do so. Instead of doing that and giving up on giving, try to find some time to dedicate yourself to a cause that makes you happy through giving. Start giving and you might just find yourself happier as time goes by!