Earlier this month, Dr. John Helliwell gave a wonderful presentation at our Estate Planning Council meeting. His topic was the “Science of Happiness” and he shared insights on the state of global happiness as described in the World Happiness Report which he co-edited. He listed the six key factors for happiness:
- the nation's total economic activity (GDP)
- a healthy life expectancy
- a sense of freedom to make decisions
- having someone to count on in times of trouble
- trust in others
That last factor “generosity” got our attention and he spent some time on this topic.
According to Dr. Helliwell and his research, there are two secrets to being happy and they are: social contact (doing things together) and generosity (for a good purpose). Evidently, people don’t think that they will be happier if they give things away to others, but according to science, they will be. There is actually an evolutionary reason for this: as a species we had to work together and help each other in order to survive in the wilderness.
The World Happiness Report describes how behaviour that increases social bonds is associated with better health and longer life expectancy and these improved health outcomes in turn can contribute to greater well-being. World religions, their rules and moral codes, have supported helping others over the centuries. Even today in our more secular world, a culture of helping each other is promoted.
Philanthropy has many benefits and rewards and now you know of one more very good reason for including philanthropy in your life. Quite simply, you will be happier!