Looking for happiness?
Start by giving away your time and money. That might sound a bit extreme, but believe it or not, there is a lot of research to back it up. People who volunteer their time during the week are less depressed, less anxious, and generally happier than people who don’t. When you are generous with your time and resources, you open yourself up to being healthier and happier1. And these improvements are not purely psychological – those same studies show that people who are generous are often in better physical health than their non-generous counterparts. When you’re self-employed, it can be tempting to spend your days hustling and chasing the next opportunity. But it turns out that the famous saying? “Money can’t buy happiness”? should have been followed with, “but giving it away can”.
Be Generous Being generous with your time and resources forces you to be aware of and become involved with the community in which you live. This involvement helps to illuminate the needs of those around you and when you become aware of these needs, you should help. The help can be simple. You can add your neighbor’s lawn to your Saturday to-do list. You can find out what supplies your local shelter needs and add those items to your shopping list. Sometimes these items are things you are already picking up like shampoo, soap, or toothpaste. Why not throw a couple extra toiletries in your cart to help someone out? Maybe you want to do more? Volunteer at your local animal shelter. They usually need people to walk the dogs or feed the kittens. Contact the parks and recreation department in your city and find out which areas need help with graffiti removal and get some paint and a group of friends and go clean it up. All of these actions not only help out your community, but they enrich your life. You may find that you meet more people and learn more stories which not only expands your circle of friends and acquaintances but broadens your client pool as well. The more peoples’ lives that you are involved with, the more likely they are to seek you out when they need services like the ones you offer. Even without the draw of more clients, being generous tends to make you happier which means you are easier to be around. You may find your personal relationships on the upswing in response to your increased generosity. It’s a win-win. If being generous makes you healthier, happier, and more successful, what’s the catch? Of course, there’s a catch. So far, the research shows that in order to reap the benefits of generosity, you have to be, well, generous with it. One, isolated act of generosity won’t do it. It has to be something that you do regularly. It doesn’t have to be the same act, but having a routine helps maintain consistency.
Generosity Goals Every journey starts with a first step. We’ve created this easy Personal Evaluation to help you set and hit goals in your work, life, and community. Download it here! 1Smith, C., & Davidson, H. (2014). The paradox of generosity: Giving we receive, grasping we lose. Oxford University Press, USA.