Giving to charity can make you a better problem solver, according to several studies. Plus, general happiness also gets a boost when you take those new approaches to old troubles, the research found.
While writing a book on charitable giving, writer and non-profit president Arthur Brooks realized that when donors give, they seemed to get something more out of it than just a brief case of the warm fuzzies. He wrote in the NY Times:
Psychologists, I learned, have long found that donating and volunteering bring a host of benefits to those who give. In one typical study, researchers from Harvard and the University of British Columbia confirmed that, in terms of quantifying “happiness,” spending money on oneself barely moves the needle, but spending on others causes a significant increase.
Why? Charitable giving improves what psychologists call “self-efficacy,” one’s belief that one is capable of handling a situation and bringing about a desired outcome. When people give their time or money to a cause they believe in, they become problem solvers. Problem solvers are happier than bystanders and victims of circumstance.
Those theories played out in Arthur’s own life. After writing his book, he got more involved in volunteering, eventually deciding to solve a problem in a very direct way: he started his own nonprofit, called the American Enterprise Institute.
And as proof that generosity breeds more happiness, he and his wife adopted a son along the way. “These things have enriched our family beyond imagination, just as the research promised,” he wrote.
You can also join our community of problem-solvers by signing up with Team Fox and joining a race or starting your own event.