A recent study by the University of Zurich involved 50 participants who were promised a sum of money that they would receive in the next few weeks and were supposed to spend. Half of the study participants committed to spending the money on someone they knew while the other half committed to spending the money on themselves. The study concluded that generosity makes us happier, even if we are only a little generous. People who act solely out of self-interest are less happy. And even merely promising to be more generous is enough to trigger a change in our brains that makes us happier.
Well that makes sense . . . except that I have had this nagging feeling for a while that I haven’t been getting the same buzz out of giving that I used to. Are my acts of generosity really giving me energy, or taking it away . . . ?
There is a book out called “The Disease to Please”, written by Harriet Braiker, which explores our need to please and questions whether we are sometimes self harming ourselves by over-giving. Do we have an urge for approval, or a fear of confrontation that makes us create a persona of “niceness”? If I were really honest – I would have to say I do sneak into this category from time to time.
The key message is that it’s OK to put yourself first. Only be nurturing yourself, giving yourself the love and life that makes you happy, will you be ready and able to give to others in a meaningful way. It’s all about balance and maintaining those important energy levels. . . .