How to Create Happiness: Step 5 of 5

Happiness is elastic.

Like a giant rubber band.  Thankfully, we can stretch and create more happiness when we are intentional.

We experience happiness at different times, and some people are more happy than others. We know the reward mechanisms of the brain are reinforced when we do certain activities. And when we reinforce those behaviors, we can be happier.  Some activities, such as mindfulness, are now being taught in MBA programs… so that people become more happy.

Here is step 5 of 5:

5.  Give.  

The happiest people give generously.  They give time.  They give talents.

John Maxwell, the “Leadership Guru of the Decade”, calls this the Law of Reciprocity.  The more you give, without expectation of direct return, then the more you will receive.

In Rotary the motto is, “Service above self.”

The happiest people give because they choose to do so.  And in return, those who give report tremendous feelings of altrusim and compassion.

Did you know that our brains are hardwired?  When we do certain behaviors, we can see electrical and chemical activity in certain portions of the brain.  For instance, consider this experiment.  Imagine that we select two sets of people, randomly matched.  What would happen if we gave $100 to each person?  Anything different?  Now imagine that the  first set was asked to invest the money on others.  The second set was not given any instructions, they could use the money in any way they desired.  Now, would you expect anything different?  What would their brain images indicate?

The first set of people, who were asked to invest $100 in others, had different brain images.  They reported it as “happiness.”  And we can see the impact on their brain imagery in bright colors.  One conclusion from this study is that we are hard wired to the reward mechanisms in our brain.  Another conclusion is that when we choose to give, we can create happiness in ourselves and others.

So, who can you give something to, today?  What can you give away, today?  How can you help someone else experience happiness?

A friend recently overheard someone state that he had a bicycle on layaway.  He used the bicycle daily.  So my friend quietly paid off the debt.  Anonymously.

What can you give, right now?