If it feels so good – makes us happy – why don’t we do it more?

Can you buy happiness?

Two professors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton have published a book called Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending and this is one of their big conclusions: 

“….money can buy happiness — when you don’t spend it on yourself. The key is social spending that benefits not just you, but other people.”

 The above is a quote from a story on the TED Radio Hour on NPR.org.

This appears to be a lesson that people whom we would classify as being “low or moderate income” know about. Not only did they spend considerably more on others during the Great Recession they far outpaced individuals whom we consider “well off.”

“Lower- and middle-class Americans give bigger share of
income to charity than the richest in recession’s wake” 

This was the headline from the Chronical of Philanthropy’s report called: How America Gives, 2014.

Highlights from the report:

  • 3%  of American’s total income is donated to charity
  • $3,176 is Median Charitable Contribution

Giving to Charity between 2006-2012 – by income levels:

How much earn                        Change in Giving

  •  $25K or less                        16.6%  increase in giving
  • $25k-50k                            8.7%  increase in giving
  • $50k-75k                            7.7%  increase in giving
  • $75-100k                            3.6%  increase in giving
  • $100k-$200k                 (3.3%) decrease in giving
  • $200k or more               (4.6%) decrease in giving

During the Great Recession, the people who had the least, significantly increased their gifts to charities by 16.6%!

Why? Is it because they are struggling too and have a better understanding of why individuals and charities need their support?

Are they more involved in their places of worship and have a stronger moral rudder?

Closer to home, Broward County has one of the lowest giving levels in Florida. [This was born out by the Six Pillars Study as well as, the 2014 Chronical of Philanthropy’s report noted above.]

In Broward, the giving ratio is 2.72%. Below are the giving levels from the surrounding counties:

Collier County 3.97%;  

Hendry County 3.86%;  

Miami-Dade County 2.96%  

Palm Beach County 3.61%

One of our board members, Chuck Tatelbaum, sent me this article from the NY Times: If Giving Feels So Good, Why Don’t We Do It?  The article’s author grew up with a strong giving ethos. He explores why it is that we don’t give more often -and give more – when it makes us so happy when we do.

All this information is timely. It is, after all, the giving season. It’s also a great time to reflect on our lives. And, as I get older (yikes), I find myself reflecting more and more on how I can make this world, this community, this town, a better place. And how I can become a better person.

And now, we both know the answer, as well as, the secret to happiness!DSC_0303

So, this holiday season give to someone – or an organization – that touches your heart. You will be happier. And,  so will they!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

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