Sunday, August 14, 2016

Notes: Altruism and Happiness via the Apostle Paul and Stephen Post

I came across some notes in my computer, which once again stunned me. The topic is altruism and happiness. 

The Apostle Paul reminds us that we will be more content, more who we want to be if we give. As he wrote (or more accurately, dictated) in 2 Corinthians 9: 8, 
"And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."

Stephen Post in 2005 article, “Altruism, Happiness, and Health: It’s Good to be Good”  (my bolding below) describes what this means from his social scientific studies of happiness and altruism.

The essential conclusion of this article is that a strong correlation exists between the well-being, happiness, health, and longevity of people who are emotionally kind and compassionate in their charitable helping activities—as long as they are not overwhelmed, and here world view may come into play. Of course, this is a population generalization that provides no guarantees for the individual. However, there is wisdom in the words of Proverbs 11:25 “a generous man will prosper, he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Revised Standard Version). It can be said that a generous life is a happier and healthier one. The freedom from a solipsistic life in which one relates to others only in so far as they contribute to one’s own agendas, as well as a general freedom from the narrow concerns of the self, bring us closer to our true and healthier nature, as all significant spiritual and moral traditions prescribe. Here, epidemiology and the spirituality of love can enter a fruitful dialogue (Levin, 2000). Life can be difficult, and death should not be denied. Love, however, makes the way easier and healthier both for those who give and those who receive.
These words are so compelling by themselves I'll let them do the talking and only add this: Why do we resist altruism? God created us to give, and giving is good for us.

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