The most certain way to succeed in life is to focus on how much value you can give to the world. This is certainly true for online marketing, but is also true in all aspects of life. But if this is supposedly so self-evident then why isn’t it more easily understood. How exactly can giving make you rich, anyway?
Let’s take a moment to unpack this.
The broad benefits of living generously
Three broad benefits of living generously include:
How giving can make you rich – Happier
- Giving generously requires an ability to understand what others need or want and meeting that need/want. Through understanding others it is a great way to boost your own confidence and outlook. Through seeing an opportunity to help others feel good is a simple way to feel good yourself. This is what is known as the contagious quality of giving. This is where the value of ‘paying-it-forward’ comes into focus.
How giving can make you rich – Healthier
Many sources online refer to Scientific observations on how giving generously helps improve health. It has been found to lower blood pressure, reduce depression and stress, and helps you feel more confident and resilient.
Some of these sources point to specific benefits, particularly, in older people who were known to have a high blood pressure. Other sources point out that the observations were not found to be statistically significant due to low sample sizes. However, regardless of what the stats say it is a common experience for people to worry less about their own challenges or problems when they are motivated to reach out in support of others.
How gving can make you rich – More Connected
- In scientific literature, a more common term for acts of kindness or generosity is ‘pro-social behaviour’. There is no doubt that such pro-social behaviour is geared to strengthen social connections. And in the field of online marketing that is a great asset to draw on. I’ll come back to that point more specifically in my next post.
How to look for the best ways to give
Certainly, as soon as the topic of giving is raised, many people will automatically think in terms of money. That’s definitely the default expectation when it comes to responding to widespread tragic events such as large-scale storm damage, bushfire or drought/famine.
However while this may be the most simple means of giving it its definitely not always the most effective means of giving.
Often giving more personally of ourselves will pay greater dividends both for the benefactor and the giver. This is where it helps to have a clear understanding about what your unique gifts/talents are.
Find your gift/talent –
For many people it may already be clear what their unique gift or talent is. I suspect, however, that most people don’t have a clear picture about what their greatest talent is. Or at least how to monetise it.
One of the simplest ways to understand what your talents are is simply to look at what your strengths are. There are many indicators that will show us what our strengths are from knowing which subjects we performed best at in school to feedback and encouragement from friends/family.
You may already have a lot of evidence in front of us about what your strengths are. But it can still be useful to ask people around you directly about what they see as your key strengths.
This will give you great feedback from seeing your strengths (and weaknesses) from another perspective.
This can give you a new way of looking at your abilities and may also help you identify new opportunities for how you can capitalise on your strengths.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose in life is to give it away.”Pablo Picasso
How giving can make you rich
There are many examples of how the act of giving has gone hand-in-hand with increased prosperity. Research in the U.S. has shown that when peoples’ income increased by 10% that a reciprocal increase in giving of 7% corresponded.
This may not seem at all surprising when it is easy to brush it off as: ‘Well of course if I had more money then I would be happier to give away more as well.” But it also shows that for people who give out of generosity are more likely to be successful at increasing their wealth.
Arthur C. Brook, Economist and former President of the American Enterprise Institute has been referenced repeatedly for his findings from a survey of 30,000 families across the US.
From this he “found that when people donate to charity, they go on to actually greater wealth.”
(Arthur Brook is the author of Who Really Cares: The surprising truth about compassionate conservatism)
The question is not whether giving brings success but why it brings success.
There has been a lot of speculation over this phenomenon since it seems to fly in the face of basic economic prudence. “You can’t give what you don’t have. And who wants to get into debt for the sake of charity – there’s no point robbing Peter to pay Paul!”
But repeatedly is is found that: Giving brings happiness and happiness brings success
“The greatest gift of giving is a portion of yourself” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
How giving can make you rich in wellbeing
When people give generously it lowers stress. It is, however, also possible to give money away and experience the opposite. This kind of experience can be labelled as ‘donors regret’. But what can be counted as ‘donors regret’ often doesn’t equate to a genuine act of donation.
And that probably cuts to the heart of the matter of why true giving lowers stress. Because when you are in a mindframe where you can willingly ‘let go’ of your personal attachment to keeping money it stands to reason that you become liberated from the concerns of having / not having money.
Bill Ackman, a leading hedge fund billionaire, wrote in a letter to Warren Buffet in 2012, about his purpose for charitable donations:
“While my motivations for giving are not driven by a profit motive, I am quite sure that I have earned financial returns from giving money away. Not directly by any means, but rather as a result of the people I have met, the ideas I have been exposed to, and the experiences I have had as a result of giving money away.”
Law of Reciprocity
The Law of Reciprocity in psychological circles refers to the experience that when someone does something nice to you that you will have an urge to reciprocate their act of generosity. Or in another way: you get back whatever you put in.
This law shows up in varied ways often influenced by the manner in which the act of giving is delivered:
- Give love in abundance and receive a greater measure in return.
- Offer your time generously and appreciate the investment of others’ time towards your personal interests.
- Share your wealth astutely and be open to more in return.
How giving can enrich your personal growth
Through acting in the interest of others we raise our personal esteem through the way others see us.
From the University of Kent, in England, a study was performed to discover how people view acts of giving in others. The structure of this study was set up with a ‘cooperation game’ where participants were given money and then asked to contribute to a collective fund. The researchers then doubled the total amount and redistributed the money from the fund to each of the participants evenly.
At the end of this ‘game’ participants were then arranged to separate into teams as part of a second phase of the experiment. Each team was asked to elect a leader for their group. It was found that 82% of participants who were elected as leaders were the most generous contributors in the ‘cooperation game’.
So the conclusion from this study showed that when people see others giving that they see leadership qualities in them.
Your mindset can be transformed for the better through generous acts of giving. This is particularly so when in the midst of challenges and difficulties.
It is interesting to reflect on how the challenges that have shown up through the global pandemic this year have broadly inspired a strengthening of community connections. There has been an explosion of connections over the ethernet.
Many people have taken the enforced restrictions on travel as an opportunity to better connect with their neighbours and look out for one another. Overall there has been an increase in collective solidarity and interest to help each other pull through this challenging experience.
Through acting in the interest of others we establish connections with a community. This has several benefits.
Through putting our mind to serving the interest of others we take our minds away from our own personal cares. This helps us feel better within ourselves. We can better manage any personal challenges in a more productive way with a positive outlook.
How will you grow through giving?
There are numerous studies and papers that have been written on the collective and personal benefits of giving. But, the best way to discover the effects of including acts of generosity in your day to day activities is to test it out in your own experience.
If you are in a position to commit to your own personal experiment of increasing your own giving to others, whether through time, attention, care or money I am keen to hear about your experiences. I am confident that it will make a noticeable change to fundamentally shifting your path to success up a gear.
To Your Future Fulfilled,