“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
That’s a statement perfectly suited for the Christmas season, and I would argue it should be part of everyday life every day of the year.
It would undoubtedly make this world a better place to live if we put it into practice.
It’s not a new idea, of course. Most of us would be hard-pressed to recall where and when we first heard it. It has been lodged for years somewhere in the back of our brains.
You have likely said it or at least heard it many times. That’s because the thought is tightly woven into Americana, our nation’s culture and heritage.
The problem with living by the belief that “It’s more blessed to give than to receive” is that it seems counterintuitive. It doesn’t look as if the real world works that way. Many of us would put it in the category inhabited by Mother Goose, the Fairy Godmother, and the Easter Bunny.
So as December 25 or whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year approaches, we gear up to give. Then we fall back into the more realistic and intuitive notion that you are better off to be on the receiving end, not the giving end of daily life.
That is the way it seems, but the truth is that in the cold, challenging, threatening world of reality, the people who do best practice the proverb as a way of life.
Before I share the scientific and objective evidence, here is where I stand on the issue: I take the statement by faith to be true.
If you are familiar with the parable, have you ever stopped to ask the origin of it? It comes from the religious anthology we call the Bible. In Acts 20:35, Jesus is the One who first said it. Since I am a Christ-follower and have been from a young age, it is one of the principles I use to navigate life.
Regardless of your religious position, a great deal of research and statistical analysis demonstrates the statement about giving is correct.
Of the numerous studies that underscore generosity’s practical value, The Ascent’s research provides one of the most vivid examples. Published November 7, 2019, a survey of over 1,000 participants found that regardless of how you practice giving, generosity is a key to a happier and healthier life.
(Margin of error is 3% with a 95% confidence interval using the Adapted Self-Report Altruism Scale by Rushton, Chrisjohn, and Fekken, 1981.)
Some of the key findings from the study:
- High-generosity respondents reported being more satisfied and happier with daily life than low-generosity respondents.
- Generous people are more likely to believe that life is meaningful, be optimistic, and be proud of who they are.
- Generous respondents reported higher scores on the closeness of their relationships, their number of friends, and the number of friends who would help them out of tough situations.
- High-generosity respondents were happier with every factor relating to their jobs and careers.
- Positive measures of mental and physical health correlate positively with generosity.
As this and other studies have shown, the giver’s spirit or attitude is more important than the particular form the giving takes.
The year 2020 will soon be in the history books. We can all be thankful when it is over.
Looking forward, we can all lay the foundation for a better New Year by getting into the spirit of giving this Holiday Season and making that spirit a way of life through 2021 and beyond.
You can begin by mulling over three questions:
- Who should be on my giving-list? (Go out of your way to include people who cannot repay you.)
- What do the people on my giving-list need?
- How can I give to help meet their needs?
As time passes, you will see for yourself, if you don’t already believe, that “It is more blessed to give than receive.”
(From Between the Two Horizons)
(To receive this weekly blog in your inbox, send a request to email@example.com.)