In Search of Real Giving to find Happiness

I truly saw my most impactful experience of giving as an outlet of joy when I was in the 9th grade. I had a teacher take a group of us (students) to the zoo where we met up with a large group of homeless children. It was an incredible experience that will stay with me my whole life. I was a young girl surrounded by children in a different circumstance, but wanting and needing the exact same things. These kids wanted the same toys for Christmas, they were happy seeing animals in a zoo in the dead of winter and eating sandwiches on a cold, pavement floor. It didn’t matter. Joy was everywhere that day. I specifically remember one, little girl who clinged to me for safety the whole day. By the end of our zoo day, she did not want to leave my side. It was hard to know that I would let go of her hand and she would be swept back into a different reality of homelessness. I will be forever grateful for that memorable day and the gift of service it shared with me.

I just finished reading an incredible book that was so well written, researched and done incredibly in-depth on many levels. I was drawn to the book in hopes of better understanding our innate need, desire, and reasons for giving. The book, “The Giving Way to Happiness” by Jenny Santi is full of stories from around the globe (wealthiest people, celebrities, givers of good) in interviews that help unlock reasons for giving. She packed it full of psychological research, stats, interviews, stories, so much that you will definitely finish feeling like a well of knowledge was given. Its a great read.

I wanted to highlight some of my favorite moments, quotes, stats and a few stories. Hope you enjoy! Hope you feel like reading further.


“I believe we’re all put on this planet for a purpose, and we all have a different purpose…When you connect with that love and that compassion, that’s when everything unfolds.” -Ellen Degeneres

“It is clear that meaning in life contributes to a happier life. Dr. Martin Seligman, director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania, whose research concentrates on what makes people feel happy and fulfilled, concluded that happiness has three dimensions that can be cultivated: the Pleasant Life, the Good Life, and the Meaningful Life. The Pleasant Life is relayed when we fill our lives with the sensual pleasures, such as food, good sex, and nice things. The pursuit of pleasure, research determined, has hardly any contribution to lasting fulfillment. The Good Life is achieved through discovering our signature strengths and using them to obtain gratification. The Meaningful Life goes one step beyond this, and happens when we use our unique strengths in service of something larger than ourselves.” “To live all three is to lead a full life.” says Seligman.

“High levels of meaning in life predict low levels of psychological distress and high levels of happiness and self-esteem, and the relationship between meaning in life and psychological well-being is substantial.”

“Meaning must be found and cannot be given.

“When you have a sense of purpose, you never get up in the morning wondering what you’re going to do with yourself. When you’re ‘In Purpose’ that is, engaged with and working toward your purpose, life becomes easier, less complicated and stressful. You become more mono-focused, like an arrow flying toward its target, and your mind feels somehow taut and strong, with less space for negativity to seep in,” says Steve Taylor

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” -Mark Twain

A few of My HIGHLIGHTS and favorite cannot miss stories: Story of model Petra Nemcova pg 1 & here will to serve, Viktor Frankl story pg 39, From Russia with Love–the story of Natalia Vodianova (famous model) pg 43, Incredible power couple who created The World Economic Forum pg182, John Foster story and so many more. Lots of good stories woven within the pages. Ric O’Barry story on pg 80

Goldie Hawn and the Hawn Foundation

Highlights from Goldie Hawn pg 48–When Goldie is asked, “How is the happiness you get out of your charitable work different from the happiness you get from your career?” “It’s quite different. One is self-centered, and there are lots of happy things that can happen to us that way. You know, you can get enough money to buy a new house; you can buy new shoes. These are all fleeting aspects of happiness. they don’t last. They’re like ripples on the water. They come and go. As long as the money is there, you’re happy and you’re okay. but when you’re really working toward making a difference, you get a deeper, deeper level of satisfaction, because it’s not for you. It’s for something bigger than just you, and the people that you meet along the way are your soul mates. They fortify you. They thrill you. They make you happy. And when you get into it, you really that you’ll attract people who are doing things aligned with your vision. Your connection to them also brings you lasting joy.”

She also says, “Those who are looking for happiness will find it in giving. “That has been researched time and time again. It really brings people out into the light from the darkness. It’s a very important aspect to continue to exercise in our lives–how you give back, how you think about humanity, how you consider yourself of value. You can go and be of help; you are engaged in the world. This helps people become happier. Giving back is as good for you as it is for those you are helping, because giving gives you purpose. When you have a purpose-driven life, you’re a happier person. You’re engaged. You’re alive.”

Super Happiness pg 116–The story of the Grameen Bank, which was started by the incredible Professor Yunus. He is known as “Banker to the Poor” & a Nobel Peace Prize winner. He never set out to become a lender, he just saw a problem and a solution. “Every time I see a problem, I create a business to solve the problem. This leads to “Superhappiness,” he says.

[I am jumping around a bit on these quotes—his whole philosophy is helping others as a community and economically] “Human beings are built in a different way. There are two things inside of us: selflessness and selfishness.” “Making money is happiness; making other people happy is super happiness. But if you don’t know that yet because you haven’t tried that, so you think there is only one happiness–making money.” “All I’m saying is take a bit of it; find out. Then if you know the super happiness, you can decide which happiness you would like to go through, or you mix both: You have happiness from making money, and the super happiness from touching people’s lives and changing the whole world. You have the capacity of changing the whole world. You didn’t know that because you are too busy taking care of yourself.”

So many great tidbits of great giving throughout.

Another great story: Billionaire John Paul DeJoria, who cofounded Paul Mitchell hair products in 1970, was raised in a European immigrant community in downtown Los Angeles. His mother once told him and his brother the three had just twenty-seven cents between them, but with food int he fridge, a backyard garden, and happiness, they were rich. For a time, DeJoria lived in his car while selling products door-to-door. He said, “One Christmas, when I was six years old, my mother took us to see the window displays and decorations in the big department stores in downtown Los Angeles. It was a big treat for us. We saw puppets that moved and trains that circled…It was really special and added to the Christmas spirit, but it didn’t cost anything. That same year, my mother gave my brother and me a dime. She told Bothe of us to hold half of it and put it in the bucket near a man who was ringing a bell. We did, and then we asked my mother why we gave him the dime (at the time, a dime could buy you three candy bars or two soda pops). My mom’s reply was, “This is the Salvation Army that helps people who are really in need. Remember boys, no matter how much you have, there is always someone who is more in need than you. Always try to give, even if it is a little.” Needless to say, that stuck with me in my adult life. Whether it’s feeding thousands of orphans in third world countries, saving whales, helping the homeless find employment, protecting our waterways, resting young girls from prostitution, teaching and supplying families in Appalachia with equipment to grow their own vegetables, or any other worthwhile endeavor….giving back is a practice and joy I want my family to continue.”

There is a lot of the book that has depth, direction and additional stories, so if you enjoyed some of these stories, then you will find additional jewels throughout this book.

Overall, the point is to truly find purpose in giving. It will not only impact your life and health, but those you touch in the service of giving. It is a good all around.

Peace. Love and Light to you today. -H

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