COLLEGE PARK, MD –
In short, the key to attaining happiness is to live with gratitude. My opinion is that gratitude is the manifestation of attentiveness towards God.
That sounds simple enough. In practice, however, we all ebb and flow in our degree of gratitude (ie our attentiveness to God rooted in our acknowledgement of His innumerable blessings upon us and our utter imperfection in receiving them).
In these times, there is a way we can proactively go about attaining a boost in our gratitude that should lead to a boost in our mood.
There are a number of studies that show the neural mechanisms of gratitude in the brain can be activated by generosity. Being generous can lead to feelings of gratitude within ourselves, thus, giving us the boost we need in order to get out of our ungracious funk and start feeling happier in times of anxiety, despair, and the like.
We’ve discussed automating goodness in ourselves on a few occasions such as a best practice in our efforts to exhibit self-control and how to use (un)selfishness to our advantage.
Similarly, I believe automating a generous attitude within ourselves is a possible and wise pursuit.
My belief in this possibility is dictated by one’s desire and ability to internalize the following Prophetic Principles:
- More for others is more for us
- Our provision is preordained and generosity will never result in poverty
- None of us have anything to give due to our own efforts
- The best generosity is that shown to those closest to us
When we believe our provision is preordained and generosity will never result in poverty, we will give easier and more often. We will be able to quiet the threat of poverty accursed satan whispers to us at the time of giving.
Then we will be able to taste the sweetness of giving rather than its bitterness. We all know we get (and give) more with honey than with vinegar.
Also, it is far easier to give when we acknowledge that the source of our resources (monetary or non-monetary) is not our cleverness or talent, but that it is simply God’s will that He entrusted us with those resources.
That puts us in a mindset of taking care to use those resources to benefit others. Those that believe their resources are the result of their own efforts will simply take care that their resources “benefit” themselves.
Perhaps the most unsung of the attitudes of generous people, though, is their understanding that the best generosity is that shown to those closest to us.
Many people get excited by the thought of giving to far-off causes, in far-off lands. Some of those same people are less enthusiastic when it comes to showing generosity to family, friends, or local causes closest to their geographical home.
It is precisely those gifts given to the people and groups closest within our circle of influence that bring the most benefit in my view.
Those gifts foster the rapport, loyalty, and gratitude necessary for the realization of happy families, communities, and societies.
The benefits of generosity are many, but it can be summed up that it is a river that empties into the ocean of happiness. Next time we feel less than happy (grateful), let’s use the strong current of generosity to our advantage in getting back to where we need to be, God willing.
The best way to set ourselves up for success in this endeavor is to internalize the Prophetic Principles that can help us automate the process.