A Renewable Source of Joy

Giving is the foundation of delight.
September 10, 2013

Is happiness harder to find in the modern world? A May report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that between 1999 and 2010, suicide in adults age 35-64 rose 28.4 percent. It rose 48.6 percent for men in their 50s and 59.7% for women age 60-64.

Depression can be crippling—the more we focus on threats, the more our brains begin to look for other threats. The only way out of this vicious cycle is to create a new cycle.

In my new book Before Happiness, I describe how the best way to create a renewable source of happiness is pro-social activity such as complimenting someone who might not get much praise, helping someone in need, donating to charity, tipping extra, smiling at strangers. Don’t just do it once—it has to become habit. Model this behavior for your family.

The result? Positive psychology research confirms what we have heard from every major religious tradition: Giving provides you happiness. The Dalai Lama says, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If YOU want to be happy, practice compassion.”

If you’re struggling to find happiness, the best way to raise your happiness is to create it for someone else first.


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