Generosity, expressed both in volunteering and charitable donations, benefits us. But the paradox in life is that regardless of the mental and physical benefits, we’re too often reluctant to give.
Research shows that volunteering results in better friendships, better health and a greater sense of control over chronic health conditions.
Yet, a recent survey pegs 60 percent of the US population as unwilling to be generous with either their money or their time. Sadly, statistics say only 25 percent of Canadians give anything to outside charities; rather, they keep most of their disposable income for themselves.
Some of the reasons cited in surveys range from ‘donor fatigue’ – too many requests from various organizations – to not wanting to be told what to do with our resources. In addition, researchers agree that fear is one of the main reasons we are reluctant to give–fearing we won’t have enough on a rainy day to provide for our loved ones and ourselves.
Yet giving to yourself is not the best way to be happy. Dan Ariely, professor of behavioural economics and psychology at Duke University says: “If you are a recipient of a good deed, you may have momentary happiness, but your long-term happiness is higher if you are the giver.”
The ancient Bible prophet Isaiah made the same correlation between giving and health:“…deal thy bread to the hungry….and bring the poor that are cast out to thy house….then shall thy light break forth as the morning and thine health shall spring forth speedily.” (Isa. 58:7,8)
Not that I haven’t experienced fear of being generous. I’ve had periods where I had to be very careful with my resources. But I have found that I can be lifted out of this fear by expanding my understanding of how we are all connected to one spiritual source of life and goodness. And this source of goodness – God – is unlimited.
My friend Rick Stewart recently shared how his grandfather found this to be true in his experience.
“In the depth of the Great Depression, my grandfather, Archie Lafferty, sat in the Sunday service of the little Christian Science church in Perry, Iowa. The time came in the service for the collection to be taken. Grandfather was trying to decide what to place in the collection plate. He knew he had a dollar and a dime (ten cents) in his pocket. But, he also knew he had seven children at home that had to be fed.
Grandfather was a railroad man, having worked first as a fireman and then locomotive engineer, but at this time he had been without work for a full two years.
In that situation common sense or financial wisdom might have told him to contribute that dime and use the dollar to feed the family. The only thing was that my grandfather found himself thinking about other things.
He thought about the reassuring glimpses he had gained through his Bible study of God as the source of all good. With gratitude for all the family’s God-given health and happiness filling his thought, my grandfather could not feel poor. Without any hesitation he put the dollar on the collection plate.
As he exited church that morning, one of the children came running with news of an immediate repair job at the city light plant.
The very next day Grandfather received another call, this time it was from the railroad. He was called back to work. And that was the last time he was ever without work in his life.”
The difference was not in the dime or the dollar given. It was in Archie’s understanding that the source of good in his life, God, is ever present and ever caring for His children. We can freely give to others and not fear that our own needs won’t be met.
As I am a community blogger throughout Ontario on Metroland Media, you can read this article on Simcoe News.