The power of giving. Unlocked!

Old wisdom and new science tell us that if we want to be happy we shouldn’t focus on our own happiness, we should concentrate our attention and actions on something, or someone, else. People who give to, or help, others have been shown to be more satisfied with their lives, have a greater sense of meaning and feel more competent.

what's your giving super power?


Giving is not just about money or things. It is more about a moment of attention, caring and connection for another fellow human being. You can be kind, or give time, help others in good times as well as in bad. Giving can take the form of small and simple acts and amazingly it becomes a virtuous circle as helping others can make us happier and happier people tend to help others more.

Psychologist Elizabeth Dunn and her colleagues have found that when individuals were given $5 or $20 to either spend on others, donate to charity or to spend on themselves, the impact on how they felt was not common sense. Participants who spent money on others or donated it experienced greater happiness than people who were given the same amount to spend on themselves. The amount of money did not affect the level of happiness generated – the smaller amounts had a similar personal impact as the larger amounts. Yet when people were asked to predict what would have the greatest impact on their personal happiness they thought that this would result from having the larger amount to spend on themselves.


are you a successful or unsuccessful giver?

Adam Grant professor at Wharton School has proved that unsuccessful givers not only care for others, they know what matters for their own well-being too. Grant describes two different types of giver: ‘selfless-givers’ and ‘other-ish givers’. Selfless givers are high on other-interest and low in self-interest. In the longer term they can pay a price for giving their time and energy without regard for their own needs. Other-ish givers are high on both concern for others and on self-interest, meaning they can successfully maintain giving over time. Clearly neither is selfish.

Even if super busy but want to help others these ideas might help you:

  • Do a five-minute favor – what can you do to help the person in five minutes or less?
  • What is the highest value you could contribute at the lowest personal ‘cost’ to you?
  • Are you uniquely qualified to help or can you introduce the person to someone who’d be more suitable?
  • Can you connect the person to others who are working on similar things – or that they can help each other?
  • How, and what, is your preferred way of helping? What’s easy for you? What are your strengths? How could you use these to help?
70 percent of customers will make a cause related purchase if an 
employee recommends it.

Companies with engaged employees outperform those without
by up to 202 percent.

Ready to take action?

If people are altruistic, they are more likely to build social connections and stronger, more supportive, social networks, which also leads to increased feelings of happiness and well-being

As Vanessa King from Action for Happiness puts it. To sustain giving, find ways to make sure that how you are helping increases your own sense of connection to others; that it aligns with your values, strengths and interests, and that you understand its impact for the person or people you are trying to help. This will maximize the benefit for those you are giving too!

Do not forget to ask for help when you need it. Think of it as an opportunity for the person you ask to get a happiness boost 🙂 do not be shy, now you know that giving has a power.



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