Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Giving is Good for You

Christakis and Fowler say social contagion could even help explain the existence of altruism: if we can pass on altruism to distant points in a network, it would help explain why altruistic people aren’t simply constantly taken advantage of by other members of their community. Last year, to test this theory, they conducted a laboratory experiment in which participants played a “cooperation game.” Each participant was asked to share a sum of money with a small group and could choose to be either generous or selfish. Christakis and Fowler found that if someone was on the receiving end of a generous exchange, that person would become more generous to the next set of partners — until the entire larger group was infected, as it were, with altruistic behavior, which meant the altruist would benefit indirectly. Read the entire article here.

Paying it forward works. I used to be terrible at being generous. I think a real turning point for me was being called out by my friend Matt in highschool/ early college. You see I used to keep track of money I owed people when they had done so much as pick up a drink for me or a ticket or whatever. I recall remembering a 1.50 debt for about 6 months that I owed to someone. Sadly the reverse was also true.

It was a terrible way to live. I realize now that then I operated from a mentality of scarcity. I felt that everything I earned I needed to survive. It was all mine and no one could have it!! Instead I’ve tried to switch to one of abundance. Everything I need is right here. Money comes and goes and I am merely a steward of it. I have so many blessings and gifts in my life. My most valued possessions are not the things I own, but the people I’ve met and the experiences I share with them. That’s the essence of joy.

We are all connected by a web of relationships, and thus what we contribute to others we contribute to ourselves. The biggest way we can change the world is to affect the lives of those around us. I encourage you to think about giving either your time and/or money to a cause you believe in this Christmas. There are a lot of great ones. If you don’t have money perhaps you can do something else to draw attention to your message.

Ps. If you want to donate to the Benevolent Beard I will match all of your donations dollar for dollar up to $500.

No comments:

Post a Comment