Whoever said 'you can't buy happiness', Clearly wasn't doing it right...
Ready to make giving work for you?
Just follow the 4 steps below...
If you aren't giving currently, watch this 2-minute video on how to do it without sacrificing your quality of life.
(if it's already a passion, skip this step)
If you are convinced financial support and volunteering your time can improve your well-being, join a growing movement by taking the Two Rule Pledge.
If you are trying to decide which organization support, here's a quick decision-making guide.
(no email required)
Giving - The Miracle Drug
Alex has it good.
He’s a 44-year-old executive at a large manufacturing firm, married to his college sweetheart, has two great kids, lives in a beautiful home and takes multiple vacations every year. His income is plenty to provide for his current lifestyle, put his kids through college and plan for retirement.
In addition, the future looks extremely bright, he’s even got an outside shot at becoming the CEO by the time he’s 50. From every objective perspective, his life is perfect.
But he doesn’t always see it that way...
Intellectually, he’s fully aware that he’s extremely successful. He understands that he’s locked down lifetime membership in the “1%” club and enjoys more of life’s amenities than most people.
But, often he doesn’t “feel” successful. No matter what he achieves, someone seems to be doing better (and of course they’re sharing stories about their success on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.).
Even though he’s regularly cruising past goals that once seemed lofty, it never seems to be enough. The chase for more leaves him exhausted, anxious, and wondering if he’ll ever be able to enjoy all this hard work. The struggle is real. Alex isn’t alone.
We (most of us reading this letter) have it good. We have more disposable income than ever, live in large well-furnished homes and enjoy a lifestyle our parents would consider “care-free”.
But, instead of enjoying our blessings we work harder than ever, striving to keep up with our friends, neighbors and co-workers.
All this pushing and effort has a cost. We’re suffering from more anxiety and depression than any generation before us. Frustrated with our lack of satisfaction, we’re constantly searching for something to make us feel better.
Unfortunately, we assume that the best solution for what ails us is always the same – achieve and acquire more.
This leads to a vicious cycle, filled with a ton of accomplishment but not as much contentment, joy and happiness as we’d like. Sensing our angst, the marketplace has stepped in to provide a “cure” by filling every second of our downtime with a distraction delivered via a screen.
We wake up to the alarm on our phones, check email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, work a long day, take the kids to practice(s) and then eat dinner in front of the TV/iPad before falling into bed exhausted.
What if I told you that the FDA had just approved a new drug that was clinically proven to reduce your stress, make you happier and even help you to live longer? Better, the drug had zero side effects, was affordable and could be taken every day for the rest of your life.
You have every reason to be skeptical.
For years, we’ve been drowning in miracle solutions promising us instant wealth, more hair, perfect relationships and rock-hard abs. Nothing has delivered as promised. This drug is different.
It’s been tested for thousands of years and there are countless examples of its many benefits. When taken as prescribed, it works every single time.
So, what is this amazing compound and where can you get a prescription? The truth is that you’ve already got the remedy, you just need to take it.
This miracle drug is called “giving” and the instructions for its use are simple. Identify someone who could benefit from some of your resources (time or money) and then… give. That’s it.
In case this sounds like another “too good to be true” scheme, consider these 5 objective and proven benefits of putting the needs of others before your own.
While there are countless factors leading to stress and anxiety in our daily lives, at the core, they are all associated with an obsession with our current situation.
You’re worried that you won’t pass the exam tomorrow, make enough money to send your kids to college or even have the courage to have a difficult conversation with an employee in the morning.
Giving forces you to take the focus off yourself and place it on someone in need. This automatically breaks our obsession with our own issues and helps to put things in perspective. In fact, research shows that even small acts of kindness can reduce stress in a meaningful way.
Feel Happier and More Optimistic.
Once your perspective starts to shift, moving away from the obsession with your own issues, you’ll start to see life differently. It turns out that this subtle shift makes you feel happier.
A 2008 study, found that giving money to someone else made people feel happier than if they spent it on themselves. Additional research from the happiness expert Sonya Lyumbomirsky indicates that you’ll feel better about life by simply performing 5 acts of kindness each week for only 6 weeks.
These good feelings aren’t just made up emotions. In 2006, the neuroscientist Jorge Moll lead a clinical study showing that giving to others activated the pleasure center of the brain and resulted in an increase in the levels of dopamine released.
Interestingly, the more a person gave, the more “active the brain’s reward center became”.
Improve Physical Health and Longevity
Guess what happens when you reduce your stress level and begin to feel better about your life? The research is clear - your physical health improves.
In 2006, Rachel Piferi of Johns Hopkins University and Kathleen Lawler of the University of Tennessee published a paper indicating that giving social support to others on a regular basis reduces blood pressure.
Furthermore, in a groundbreaking study, Doug Oman from the University of California at Berkley followed 2,000 individuals for 5 years. He found that the group that volunteered for 2 or more organizations were 44% less likely to die.
Better Relationships and Less Loneliness
In today’s “connected” world, American’s feel lonelier than ever before. Only ½ of us takes the time to have meaningful conversations with close friends and roughly 25% of Americans rarely feel that people understand them.
Giving to others is a great way to address this loneliness epidemic. When you take the focus off yourself and instead think about doing something for another person in need, everyone benefits.
In her book The How of Happiness, Sonya Lyumbomirsky points out that “being kind and generous leads you to perceive others more positively and more charitably,” and this “fosters a heightened sense of interdependence and cooperation in your social community.”
If you have any doubt, go on a weeklong mission trip and witness the amazing relationships you develop.
Improved Financial Health
As you can imagine, one of the major reasons people don’t support non-profits financially is that they don’t have the means. Many claim that they’ll give “as soon as” they’re in a better financial situation.
The problem is that most people don’t know exactly when they’ll be in a better financial situation. A recent study by US Bank indicates that only 41% of Americans live on a budget.
In other words, they can’t possibly know if they have enough disposable income to commit to others because they don’t know where their money goes each month.
Making giving a priority challenges most people to pay more attention to their spending. Often, this leads to the creation of a monthly budget which has many proven benefits. It helps decrease spending, increases savings, achieve important goals (vacation, eliminate credit card debt, etc.) and reduces your financial worries.
As you've seen, giving really is the miracle drug. It has been proven to reduce stress, increase happiness, improve relationships, help you reach your financial goals and even extend your life!
Better, it works quickly and has zero nasty side effects. So, why are so few taking full advantage of this therapy? The list of reasons is long.
We’re afraid that we’ll run out of money to take care of our family. We can’t imagine ever having enough free time in our lives to volunteer. We’re worried that our donations aren’t making an impact. We might even think that the government should be taking care of these problems, etc.
Ultimately, we don’t believe that the benefit is worth the cost. But what if we simply embraced the idea that the benefit far outweighs the investment?
What if getting involved in a local mentoring organization/homeless shelter/food pantry/church/etc. helped you focus on all the amazing blessings you’ve got in your life? What if this shift in your perspective reduced your stress and increased the amount of joy you feel every day?
Wouldn’t it be worth it?
Don’t panic, believing that it’s time to invest in others doesn’t have to radically alter your life. Let me tell you, you don’t need to quit your job, sell your house and move into the poorest neighborhood to get the benefits of this miracle drug.
But you do need to make a commitment.
It’s more than pledging $25 for the next charitable campaign you see on Facebook or dropping a couple of dollars into the Salvation Army bucket.
Here are 3 simple steps to help you generate momentum to get the full benefits of the miracle drug called giving.
One more thing before you go...
It’s one thing to read an interesting article, agree with the idea and maybe even share on social media. It’s something entirely different to do something with what you’ve learned.
If you need a little extra nudge to help generate a little momentum and change your behavior, consider joining the movement and taking the Two Rule Pledge.
- CJ McClanahan