Tuesday 12 March 2019

5 Ways Giving Back Makes You a Happier Person .

smiling woman
By the age of 65, the average American will have watched two million commercials
, all of them declaring the meta narrative that “if you buy our product, you will be a happier person.” The pursuit of money, wealth and what it can buy is absolutely integral to the American experience, yet it is the exact opposite of what Jesus taught about the human experience.
Jesus made some pretty outlandish statements in his life: that He was God, that He was the light of the world, that no one could know God other than through Him. Pretty over-the-top statements. The reason we worship Jesus and follow His teaching isn’t necessarily because His statements sound nice or even make sense. Much of His teaching is counter-intuitive and sometimes it’s just downright controversial. The reason we take with authority the words of Jesus is for one reason and one reason only: Jesus predicted his own death and resurrection from the dead, and then he pulled it off. The only guy in history to do that. If someone can predict their own death and resurrection and then actually pull it off, it makes sense to just go with whatever he says.
Tucked away in the book of Acts, we see one such outlandish statement from Jesus:
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35
More than just an odd statement, Jesus knew exactly what he was talking about. Here are five ways that giving back makes you a happier person.

Giving back actually makes you happier.
The Wall Street Journal, hardly a theological or pro-Christian publication, ran an intriguing article titled "Hard-Wired for Giving". Here’s the tagline: Contrary to conventional wisdom that humans are essentially selfish, scientists are finding that the brain is built for generosity. Now, they’re not willing to come out and say who hard-wired us for generosity, but Christians believe it’s God Himself. Here’s what they reported: when a person donates to a worthy cause, the mid-brain region of the brain lights up like a Christmas tree. Chemicals are released in your brain and you actually feel happier. Just for reference, it’s the same region of the brain that lights up when (and they make this analogy) when you eat chocolate or make babies. We’re literally hard-wired to be generous and feel pleasure when we tap into how God made us. That’s the first reason giving back makes you a happier person: it literally makes you happier.

Giving back loosens the grip of selfishness on your heart.
Greed and selfishness are like a cancer that destroys the soul. We know this from experience. If you want to be miserable (which is the opposite of happy), then be selfish. Think about the most selfish, greedy people you know. They don’t give anything to anyone. You know to not even ask them if you need anything, because the answer will always be ‘no.’ Are they generally happy? No, usually they’re the most miserable people you know! Why? Because greed is a cancer that will eat you up from the inside out and destroy everything good about you, if you let it. Giving is the only antidote to greed. When you give, it’s literally like you’re releasing the negative toxins from your soul, like you’re breaking up the hard shell of selfishness and greed that threatens to encase your heart. It’s more blessed to give than to receive. Giving back makes you a happier person.

Giving back strengthens social bonds and deepens human relationships.
When you become a generous person, it seeps over into your relationships with other people. When you give back, it doesn’t just stop with money. You become generous with your time and with your talents. That’s why researchers from the University of Notre Dame did a nationwide research project and discovered that people who described their lives as “very happy” volunteer an average of 5.8 hours per month and people who described their lives as “unhappy” volunteer an average of 0.6 hours per month. Just think about it: if you were choosing who you wanted to spend an afternoon with, a person who was known to be stingy, self-centered and greedy or a person who was generous and giving, who would you want to hang out with? The generous person, not even with the expectation that you’d get anything. They’re just better people to hang around with. When you develop a life of generosity, people will want to be around you more, not because they want a hand out but because generous people are better to hang around with. You’ll have more relationships and deeper friendships. If you’re greedy and self-centered, people will avoid you and you’ll live a life of isolation. Giving back makes you happier because it strengthens and deepens your bonds with other people.

When you give back your heart gets caught up in something bigger.
Let’s say you had $100 a week and you could do whatever you wanted with it. You could take your whole family out to a nice meal. That would make you happy temporarily. You could go on a mini-shopping spree and buy an outfit or two. That would make you happy, for a little while. But what if you decided to invest that $100 in something bigger than yourself? What if you started contributing to a non-profit that built wells in Africa and gave clean water to underprivileged communities? Diseases from dirty water kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Access to clean water and basic sanitation can save around 16,000 lives every week. So what if you took that $100 a week and did something about that? What if after a year or two of saving you actually donated enough to build a well in a village? What if your well saved one life a month. Every month, you could walk around thinking, “I saved someone’s life this month. A little girl has an opportunity for an education because of my well.” Does that seem a little bigger, a little more meaningful than another night out on the town or an outfit that you’ll only wear twice? When you give back, your heart gets caught up in something bigger. It’s more blessed to give than to receive.

When you give back you connect with your divine identity. 
This is when we begin to move from the natural to the supernatural. As the Wall Street Journal itself reports, we are hard-wired to give. When we give and begin to live a life of generosity, we tap into our divine identity. How so? When we give, we’re more like God, because God at His core is a giver. What does the most famous verse in the Bible say? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Do you want to become more like God? Become a giver. God is a giver. God is generous, and we celebrate that generosity, that grace, every time we give back. When we connect to our divine identity, we begin to unlock that divine happiness that God wants all of us to experience.

When you give back you literally become happier by releasing the negative toxins of greed and selfishness and producing chemicals in your brain associated with happiness. When you give back your relationships with those around you expand and strengthen, your heart gets caught up in something much bigger than yourself and you connect with your divine identity. Give back to others! Become a generous person! It is one of the best decisions you will ever make.

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