from BetterHumans Website
My three-year-old son Rafa started playing with a new truck. The kind of toy with all the moving parts, lights and colors that can make a kid go mad at that age.
At some point, another kid roughly his age approaches him and says:
I braced for the classic in-your-face "No. It's mine" of my three-year-old, and got ready for the awkward smile exchange with the other kid's parent.
But instead, my son replied:
I could not believe my eyes.
The other kid, grateful and somewhat surprised, responded with,
And so they went to enjoy each other's toys in the sand. It was such a small moment, but it reminded me of the importance of giving and how it helps us lead more fulfilled lives.
I've learned a lot about the science of sharing over the years and today, I'd like to share that knowledge with you.
"The greatest discovery of my generation
is that a human being can alter his life
by altering his attitudes of mind."
This concept became
popular thanks to Steven Covey and his best-selling book "7
Habits of Highly Effective People."
People in this mindset
are defensive... Worried about protecting what they have more than
they are willing to grow out of their self-imposed boundaries to
That taking care of stakeholders matter.
That decision making, profits and good ideas are worth sharing to build something bigger than themselves.
From a much more
practical point of view, it has a phenomenal impact on our
psychological well-being and can be a core driver of our success in
to a hypothetical 'experience machine'
that, for the rest of your life, would stimulate your brain
and give you any positive feelings you desire.
Most people to whom I offer this imaginary choice
refuse the machine.
It is not just positive feelings we want:
we want to be entitled to our positive feelings."
The results were surprising.
They showed that, on average, people were willing to pay twice as much money to prevent someone else receiving an electric shock than the amount of money they would pay to prevent receiving the same amount of shock themselves.
At first, the conclusions seem puzzling.
How does this fit with our survival bias, our innate sense of self-protection in the face of danger? A little experiment may help us understand this apparent contradiction.
In the next few days, do the following two things:
Plan both events and write about how you think doing those two different acts will make you feel.
Then, immediately after completing the two activities, write down how you actually feel. At the end of the day, write down how you feel again, long after both events happened.
More likely than not, the high of doing something fun will last for a little bit and then fade away. It is a satisfaction that consumes itself shortly after the activity ends.
If you go to the cinema and you enjoyed the movie, you will feel good after leaving the premises, but you won't carry that feeling much longer after that.
However, if you perform a random act of kindness the feeling-good effect will endure for hours after the event happened. Try helping a little boy with their homework, or listening to someone in need. Or donating to a cause you truly believe in.
The positive feelings stemming from the altruistic act will last for a long time after the event happened.
…And Positive Psychology Knows Why
Positive psychology is the field behind the scientific theory of happiness.
Not so long ago, psychology focused only on helping troubled minds go back to a healthy state:
It sought to bring these patients back from "-10 to 0" on the well-being scale.
Positive psychology, on the other hand, looks to answer the question,
It looks scientifically into how we can go from "0 to +10" on the well-being scale.
The father of positive psychology is Dr. Martin Seligman, author of books like "Authentic Happiness" and "Learned Optimism" and the founder of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
After years of research, he came up with 5 core pillars that act as the infrastructure to our psychological well-being and happiness.
It is called the PERMA model:
You can experience all of these in a single act of giving, whether it's sharing a meal with a friend or donating a large sum to a good cause.
Why Giving Fulfills Us
Giving adds to our lives in many different ways, but is also exactly in line with the PERMA model.
However, giving goes well beyond facilitating positive emotions or better interactions with others.
It can become a profound driver of our success in life, by contributing directly to the meaning and accomplishment components of the PERMA model.
Giving As Purpose
Cole started her career waitressing at Hooters while finishing her high school. She later rose up to become vice president of the company at age 26.
Today, Kat Cole is Group President of Focus Brands, an investor, humanitarian and advisor.
Here's her attitude on giving:
She differentiates between productive achievers and destructive achievers.
As per her own description in a recent interview:
For Cole, her giving attitude implied raising others and bringing them along in her path towards growth.
A deep sense of purpose, rooted on an abundance mentality, had a significant impact on her professional success.
Giving And Happiness - My Experience
As a father, I pay close attention to the way my two children interact between them, and how they do so with others.
I am curious about the motivations behind their daily choices. About their why... My son's instinctive reaction in the park reminded me of my shift towards a more giving stance.
Over the past two years, I have discovered that my sense of purpose is increasingly linked to people, and less with money and the definition of "success" by current social standards.
Two factors contributed to shaping this:
The two ways above are two expressions of the same mindset.
Believing in abundance - without giving ourselves mindlessly nor denying our ambitions in the process - can lead us on a path towards personal well-being and success in life.
Happiness has to be earned. It cannot be chased. It cannot be manufactured. Happiness is about the consistency of our daily actions with our principles. The way we respond to the daily demands of life.
In that context, a virtuous circle of gratitude and giving - as proven by positive psychology, the science of happiness - becomes a critical element of a fulfilling life.
To summarize, life is not a zero-sum game.
An abundance mindset is both possible and practical. Science has shown our brains are wired to give because they prolong positive emotions from such interactions.
Positive Psychology confirms this and gives us a model we can use to become productive achievers:
And how did that day in the park with my three-year-old son end?
Ah, yes! Well, at some point we decided to leave. It was already lunch time. As we were leaving the park, the other kid my run out towards us and stopped my son.
He then asked:
I guess on that day, giving created a new friendship...