Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more. – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
What does that mean?
This quote is about the difference between giving and getting. As kids, I imagine most of us liked one a whole lot more than the other. But how has that changed as we have matured?
The quote says that getting more stuff will not make you the happiest person around. At least after the first few moments, because that’s all the longer the happiness of ‘stuff’ usually lasts.
Instead, the quote concludes, the happiest people are those who give, and give generously. This matches my experience, at least since I grew up enough to realize that ‘stuff’ isn’t where happiness is found.
In short, this quote is urging us to try to give more, rather than to try to gather more or collect more. Whether we give of our time, our fortune, or in some other manner, I believe there is little we could do to make a greater impact on others lives, or our happiness.
Why is meaningful giving important?
There really aren’t many other ways to get a feeling like that, besides with meaningful giving. What do I mean by putting the word ‘meaningful’ in there? Let us consider an example of giving at a store.
You just made a purchase, and you got a five dollar bill and a penny in change. Rather than put the penny in your pocket, you drop it in the little box by the register for the charity the store supports. How meaningful was that gift? It was more of an afterthought or a convenience than a gift, right?
What if, instead, you had folded the five dollar bill up and slipped it in through the slot. Even if you make a lot of money, and five dollars isn’t all that valuable, just the amount of thought and the effort of folding up the bill makes it at least a little meaningful, doesn’t it?
And that’s the point. If it’s something you’d throw away, it hardly counts. Those gifts may mean something to the people who receive them, but they don’t mean much to you. You won’t have ‘given more’ as the quote suggests. But when you do, it really feels good, both for you, and for them.
Where can I apply this in my life?
We all have things we can give, which are meaningful, thoughtful, and from the heart. And that is why these things help us to feel happy. Most of us feel good when we help others. We feel even better when the help we give is meaningful to us.
The penny in the box works for small children who are learning to contribute to worthy causes, but for most of the rest of us, it’s not a meaningful contribution, not a meaningful gift. What we consider meaningful will likely depend on the amount of available cash at the moment, which will vary from person to person and from time to time.
When you donate time, do you do a few moments of work, and then wander off? Or do you spend some time and get some things done? You don’t have to move mountains to feel good, you just have to do enough to feel like you’ve contributed something to the project.
Similarly, if you donate a beat up old couch, do you feel good for donating it, or do you just feel relieve not to have to haul it to the land-fill? That’s another way of looking at a meaningful gift, versus one of convenience.
To the recipient, it may not matter, but we’re trying to get you the maximum happiness, right? And that means the gifts, and more specifically, the act of giving, has to mean something to you, because that’s what today’s quote is all about.
Take a moment to consider what kind of gifts you give. Not just holiday gifts to loved ones, or at parties or weddings. What do you give, and why? The actual amount, I believe, matters less than the amount of heart you put into the gift.
The reason behind the gift is also important, as some gifts are from the heart, and others are merely given to gain influence or to entrap someone. Why do you give your gifts, and what do you hope to gain from them?
We all wish to be happy. It is easier when we share of ourselves, and help others. Giving gifts is one way to state it. Helping others is another way. But no matter what we call it, if it comes from the heart, and our motives are pure, we will gain far more as the giver than as the recipient.
From: Twitter, @AR_Foundation
confirmed at : www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/h/hjacksonb124527.html
Photo by Jessica
- The Gift That Keeps on Giving by Elizabeth Wilson (parramattatm.org.au)
- 10 Things Happy People Do Differently (lifehack.org)
- Different Ways to Give to Charities You Love (turbotax.intuit.com)
- Social giving makes us happier (sott.net)