The Benefits of Giving
Below are several articles which address giving and happiness.
We hope you find them inspirational.
1. Compensation: Pursuit of happiness
From the September 15, 2008 issue of Canadian Business magazine
Taking your bonus pay and showering yourself with gifts won’t make you happy, but being generous will. Even among the most selfish employees, it was only the amount they spent on others that led to increased happiness, according to research by Michael Norton, assistant professor at Harvard Business School, and Elizabeth Dunn, assistant psychology professor at the University of British Columbia.
“There’s been a lot of research that ironically shows that money doesn’t buy happiness,” says Norton. “But maybe that’s because people buy flat-screen TVs versus things that really bring happiness.” The pair found that people do feel better if they spend just $5 of their bonus on others. Norton has yet to examine why this is so, but believes it’s linked to the idea of investing in others and the hope that such largesse will give them a positive return.
The researchers also discovered employees are unaware that spending money on others will make them feel better. That’s why managers should give staffers opportunities to be generous, say Norton and Dunn. For example, Google last year gave its AdSense clients $100 gift cards for DonorsChoose.org, which allowed them to choose where to make their donations. The researchers suggest companies could alter in-house donation programs to give employees a similar option.
As for whether employees derive the same degree of happiness from giving away their own money compared to someone else’s, Norton says they have just started to examine this. But he has a hunch that an employee will reap more happiness from giving away her own money than her employer’s.
2. Encourage gratitude in your young
By Tom McMahon
An important but seldom-taught lesson is the value of gratitude. In a culture like ours, where the norm is always to want more, it's important to encourage children to think about being thankful and to feel fortunate for what they already have. When they do, they often get a boost of happiness and optimism. So do adults, claim researchers.
Preschoolers and school-age children can start their own gratitude journal or calendar, where they (or you) write down something they are grateful for each day. Parents can nurture this activity by praising their choices, encouraging dialogue and sharing their own gems of gratitude. Your local children's librarian will surely have many suggestions of good books on the subject.
Of all the people who can benefit most from the value of gratitude, it's teenagers. They are bombarded by advertisers with the message that they need more things, from the latest iPod to the coolest jeans. Occasionally they need a parent to step in, like I have a few times, with a quick and gentle reminder about what is really important — having each other, good health and a roof over our heads.
Encourage the positive: To encourage my children to notice the positive things in life, I ask them to say three positive things about their day before telling us something negative. This works great for my family. Instead of coming home complaining about every little thing that went wrong that day, they come home sharing all the good news. I'm hoping this will teach them to concentrate on the positives and forget about the silly negatives. This daily ritual also could be a fun way to begin dinner conversation each evening.
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