Try this little experiment to taste a little of what the joy of giving can do for your soul; close your eyes and imagine giving something to the person you love most, then open your eyes and feel your heart strangely warmed.
Professor Stephen G. Post, Director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics in USA, has many words of wisdom about the benefits of gift giving and says that “over the centuries spiritual and moral thinkers have prescribed ways of living that lead to greater happiness. The best of them from Socrates to Buddha, from Jesus to Maimonides, have powerfully lived out what they taught”. These words lead us to ponder the goals of a good life, which these individuals agreed comprise simplicity, integrity and profound generosity.
Professor Post says that the secret to greater happiness is a deeper kindness, the side effects of which are feeling healthier and happier. His thesis on this subject quotes people like Abraham Lincoln, who was well known for acts of neighbourly kindness and who stated, “When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad and that is my religion.” Other religions have the same message; Psalm 11:25, “Those who refresh others are themselves refreshed.”
Sure, we have a need for tangible possessions, but ample research shows that sustainable happiness doesn’t come from material goods or as Professor puts it, “the hedonistic treadmill”. It mostly comes from within you. The Professor’s blog post ‘It’s Good to be Good’ gives so many examples of the benefits of giving, but all you really need to do is practise it – perhaps in ways you have not done in the past, by giving to those who really need it.
Keep an eye out for Friday’s post on our top five ways to gift for good.