August 27, 2019
Would you like to become happier and grow your reputation at work and home?
There’s a simple and free way to head in this direction.
How do you feel when someone does a nice thing for you? For example, a colleague helps you with a difficult task without you asking for help.
Or when a patient or client compliments you on your work, expressing their gratitude?
Perhaps a friend notices you’ve had a hard week and drops a note with words to encourage you.
Or on your birthday, a family member gives you an expensive gift you know would be challenging for them to afford. How do you feel?
Chances are you feel grateful and connected. These are examples of altruism and generosity which amplify our happiness, both when we receive and when we give.
Generosity is a character virtue. When we are generous as a habit, we receive joy, rich relationships and meaning in what we do.
Researchers here  define altruism as giving more than is expected. They provide an example of giving 25c to a homeless person as altruistic because the person didn’t expect anything, whereas generosity is giving liberally and abundantly such as giving $20 to the homeless person.
When we are generous, this comes at a higher cost to us. It takes thinking, planning, action and sometimes money.
There are likely many reasons we decide to be generous, but here a few to think about:
But sometimes it’s hard to be generous because we face many challenges in our busy lives.
We barely have time to be generous. We chose a caring profession and we love our friends and family, which shows we are generous people. But working in demanding careers, raising families, and meeting our responsibilities takes the bulk of our time and depletes our energy.
When we’re tired or overwhelmed, we focus on essential tasks. Basic demands include our job roles and looking after our homes, family and health. To plan generous acts is a challenge.
Knowing the benefits of being generous helps us make the leap to generosity as a habit.
All people (well most) want to be loved, appreciated and accepted. When we are generous as a habit, we meet the needs of others in simple ways. The side effects for us are health and joy as we build a community of generous people. I have a way to go in improving this habit so I hope you’ll join me in becoming the best version of ourselves.
Choose three people you care about. Next to each name, write something generous to offer them this month. Maybe a thank you note or text message encouraging them. After actioning these, how did you feel?
 Zak PJ, Stanton AA, Ahmadi S (2007) Oxytocin Increases Generosity in Humans. PLOS ONE 2(11): e1128. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0001128
 Tsvetkova M, Macy MW (2014) The Social Contagion of Generosity. PLOS ONE 9(2): e87275. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0087275
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I’m the creator of Minutes to Happy and your go-to counsellor and wellness coaching companion.
I’m here to guide you in becoming your bravest self (no matter what wellness worries and chronic health challenges are plonked in your path).