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The reliable way to buy happiness

Arthur Brooks in his 2008 book ‘Gross National Happiness: Why Happiness Matters for America--and How We Can Get More of It’ says the only way to “buy” happiness is to give your money away to charity.

He says people who give money to charity are 43 percent more likely than nongivers to say they are very happy. And volunteers are 42 percent more likely to be very happy than nonvolunteers.

Why does charity correlate to happiness?
Psychologists refer to the “helper’s high” and believe it is due to endorphins. Charity lowers stress hormones that cause unhappiness. Charity brings a sense of control in a chaotic world. We can be proactive solving problems and thus feel empowered. Helping another can relieve our own unhappiness if we focus on someone else’s problems instead of our own.

The more people give and volunteer, the happier they are
It’s the time of year that United Way campaigns are underway in our work places. And Iowa Shares also in my workplace. You have infinite choices of where to give your money and your time. This coming year will probably be difficult for many in our county, so do yourself a favor, help others by giving away some time and money.

Brooks says there’s “evidence that giving is habitual, and –like good manners, good taste and other fine things in life—the earlier people are exposed to the joys of charity, the more likely they are to practice giving throughout their lives and enjoy its amazing benefits.”