Generosity is Good for YOU

References: PsychNETHealth PsychologyCurr Dir Psychol Sci-FiScience,

Alright! We just had a huge hurricane in Texas, and another on the way in the Atlantic. The TV and radio are all calling out for help with money, time, boats, you name it. They need help. They need your generosity. And here is what is cool, you do too!

Giving, at first, feels hard. You worked hard for your dollars. You earned your good salary. But why does every religious tradition in history consider helping people one of their central tenants? Jesus, as one example, talks more about giving away your wealth than any other topic. Jewish tradition is what Jesus was referencing. They are just as generous. It’s one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Buddhism has “10 Good Deeds“. Hindu’s get to heaven giving alms.

Modern researchers are finally putting some “scientific data” around that. Why is “giving” so important for us to learn to do? What is it about generosity that makes it so compelling, despite the barriers of self interest?

Here is the science of it. In 2013, a study of retired representing a statistical sample of America was conducted. They had to be over 50 and multiple variables were recorded over 4 years of observation. Those who volunteered more than 200 hours in the 12 months prior to the study being started showed they developed less high blood pressure (40% less). That’s about the same effect as taking a pill. They also had high scores on “well being”. This is pretty remarkable. But that’s not all.

Another study looked at elderly folks given $ 40 and told they had to dispose of it in one day. Half were to spend it on themselves. The other half had to give it away. Guess what happened! Those who had to give it away dropped their blood pressure as much as folks taking a pill to lower pressure. This reinforces other research that shows that “Happiness Runs in a Circular Motion.” There is plenty of other research showing that the closer you are involved, the stronger the emotional tie. Up front and personal matters.

I get it. Every religion says it’s good because the geniuses of history expressed their insight into human nature as rules for us to follow for daily living. It’s good for you. Plain and simple. Thank goodness there are folks around who need our help. That applies to the poorest of the poor.

WWW.What will work for me. One of my strongest childhood memories from Bisrampur church in India was the “Muthi Dhan” offering where the local farmers would bring in a “fistful of rice” to share with those more needy. These were folks living on $ 3-5 a day for their whole family. They would qualify in just about anyone’s lexicon as being poor, and needing help. But their own happiness depends on giving too. I’m intending to go to my current congregation and give a meaningfully big check towards hurricane relief. I would ask you do do that same, for your sake.

Pop Quiz

  1. Something about the way we got wired as humans gets into a good spot when we share what is important and precious to us with others? T or F
    Answer: Call it your faith, your duty, your community, but yes, isn’t that true.
  2. We can measure medical consequences of being generous. What is it?               Answer: Blood pressure lowering as much as with a pill
  3. Is this why brain health experts say to keep a healthy brain, you need to be connected? Answer: You decide. Of course!
  4. I’m too poor to give. T or F                                                                             Answer: Research shows the “poor”tend to be more generous, proportionately.
  5. Most money is given by the poor? T or F                                               Answer: actually false. 70-80% of total dollars comes from “wealthy”, but they are giving a lower percentage of their income. So, don’t trash the rich. Praise them for their generosity. It’s really important for them to be connected too.  I suspect that the mind set of “accumulating wealth” becomes a habit, then an addiction, making giving all the harder, and all the more important.  It appears it’s a habit not broken easily, hence the religious admonitions.

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