Getting A Grip On Happiness

There are times when I read the words of Jesus, and I wonder about the stated principle.  When Jesus said treat others like you want them to treat you, I used to think His words were a quid pro quo principle.  After reading some research, I’ve come to realize how beneficial those words can be to me.

Living the Golden Rule and voluntering can enhance a person’s sense of well-being.  A study found that 41% of us volunteer an average of 100 hours a year with the following results:

  • 68% of volunteers agree that volunteering “has made me feel physically healthier
  • 92% report  it “enriches my sense of purpose in life
  • 89% report it “has improved my sense of well-being,”
  • 73% that it “lowers my stress levels,”
  • 96% that it “makes people happier,”
  • 77% that it “improves emotional health,”
  • 78% that it helps with recovery “from loss and disappointment”

Typically, people who give of themselves to others have less trouble sleeping,  and they experience less anxiety, less helplessness & hopelessness.  They also report better friendships and social networks, and sense of control over chronic conditions than people who are more self-centered.

Each year, Stephen Post updates his, It’s Good To Be Good, research.  Post says:  ….as one achieves a certain shift from selfishness to concern for others, benefits accrue.   His research suggests that a person may feel good when he gives a financial gift to an individual or a cause; however, the benefits of helping others are most pronounced in direct person-to-person “hands on” activities.

When we embrace the words of Jesus and begin to live the Golden Rule, a satisfying life is within our reach.  According to Post, one way to elevate happiness is to reach out in helping behaviors and contribute to the lives of others. That happiness in turn elevates giving, which in turn elevates happiness. The two fuel each other in a circular fashion – a classic feedback loop.

The words of Dr. Albert Schweitzer leave us with a thought worth thinking: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.

One thought on “Getting A Grip On Happiness

  1. Stan,
    Because what we do is so volunteer driven, we have frequent philosophical conversations about this at Numana. In fact, we try to move our messaging about hunger relief from the guilt-based ,”I have so much and ought to share” to “there is pure pleasure in taking care of the hungry.” As Aristotle said, “Pleasure is only accomplished in virtuous activity.” Humanity looks for happiness in often not-so-virtuous activity, but even Aristotle understood that happiness was a by-product of something else- doing good. Good stuff. Would love to have you involved in our conversations sometime.


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