Everyone’s heard the old saying, “It’s better to give than to receive”. However, I doubt many of us have taken the time to stop and think about what that means. Like many old sayings, this one has a lot more truth to it than many of us could have ever imagined.
Research Shows a Link Between Spirituality and Happiness
A study of what makes kids happy was recently released by Mark Holder, Associate Professor of Psychology at UBC Okanagan and his colleague, Judi Wallace. Their study concluded that there was a direct link between a child’s spirituality and their happiness. Children who were more spiritual were significantly happier than children who are less spiritually aware.
It is important to understand how these professors define spirituality. They did not define it in the traditional sense of religious experiences or beliefs. They illustrate spirituality as an inner belief system that guides us and gives us self-worth. The children who were happier had a greater sense of meaning in their lives. These children also felt they had stronger relationships to friends and family than those who were less spiritual.
The researchers stated they wanted to conduct further research in the future. Among their theories was that a child would experience a greater sense of self-worth after doing charitable activities. By giving to others, it would give the children a greater sense of self-worth.
Why it is Better to Give Than to Receive.
In today’s society, we are constantly on the go. We barely have time to take care of ourselves much less give to others. But is that really the case? Why do we not take the time to lead by example? Our actions have a direct imprint on the lives of our children. Through volunteering, attending community events and researching how to better the environment, we are leading our children to a more spiritual connection with the world around them. If they live with a sense of selflessness in order to create positive change, they are receiving many lessons that cannot be taught by sitting in front of a computer screen or watching television.
Take Action and Create a Happier World
In order to find more happiness through spirituality, you cannot just go through the motions. Simply saying that you have a greater sense of self-worth or higher meaning in your life is not going to make you believe it. How are you taking action to create a happier life for yourself? Living a life of purpose and service through helping others will create a desired outcome of contentment. By passing on these values to future generations, you are most certainly doing your part to create a better world.
Although this study was not linked to a religious experience, for anyone who has interacted with missionaries of just about any religion, there is a common trait of happiness amongst them that is palpable. Missionaries live to better the lives of others while giving up their own luxuries and comforts. In addition, they are always happy and they are always willing to give more.
Do you think it’s coincidence that the people you see giving the most are also the people who are the happiest? That being said, how can you contribute to the happiness of future generations?
More people are being diagnosed with depression these days than ever before. While it can be argued that the increase is due to a better understanding of mental health issues, many will disagree. With smart phones and the Internet at our fingertips, people are able to isolate themselves more now than ever before. We have games and movies on demand. We can shop from home. We do not even have to leave the house to eat. As a result, the interaction between people is becoming less frequent. People do not deal with each other face-to-face like they used to.
Many children in North America and other developed countries struggle to hold down a simple face-to-face conversation; however, they can send text messages and emails all day long. The problem with this generation in particular is that these types of interactions have no real deep meaning and connection. How will children gain any self-worth in their lives by living through a screen? Without the experiences of helping others, how can they ever understand of the meaning of life? By living through technology, there is a severe disconnect to having a purely human experience.
In underdeveloped countries where children do not have the luxuries of technology, there is a sense of connection to the things that truly matter. Family, spiritual and emotional experiences and exploring nature provide these children with happiness and clarity.
Children in these countries are expected to start contributing to the family at a very young age. Each person is assigned duties and chores to complete every day or the family will not have enough to eat. This type of relationship to one another creates deep, spiritual bonds through the service of contribution and hard work.
Most children in developed societies and countries have very limited chores, most of which are simply busywork. Children know that if they do not do their chores for a week, there will only be small consequences. Nobody will go hungry. However, this is not the case everywhere in the world. In Africa, for example, children learn from an early age that they need to hunt in order to be able to eat, or collect water so that they won’t go thirsty. They also learn the importance of teamwork and relying on the power of the team or community for survival. This creates a deeper sense of connection to others through the power of service.
Whether past or present, there is a similar relationship between a deep sense of meaning and a strong purpose. Children who live spiritual lives are happier and filled with more contentment than kids who do not have a supportive foundation of community.
Living in a Material World
When we take a look at all of the historical religious leaders who still have followers thousands of years later, they had one theme in common: they lived without desire for material gain. From the Great Buddha to Mohammed to Gandhi, these people have been roles models of unconditional love, kindness and selflessness. In fact, many of them said to give our worldly possessions away to live a happier life. They taught that through some form of sacrifice or suffering, we can reach an elevated spiritual enlightenment.
Holder’s research revealed that children were happiest when asked to describe three things they were thankful for. He found that this exercise greatly increased their happiness, as they took time to appreciate the beauty of life experiences. Teaching children that life isn’t about material objects can have a huge impact on future generations.
If we take the time to show children that their contributions to society have a greater meaning than how many toys the own, we are setting them up for spiritual success. The happier people are, the more creative, tolerant and productive they are as well. If we passed along this knowledge to children by leading by example, the possibility of spiritual happiness is sure to rise. The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Let’s nourish their minds, bodies and souls with empowering traits that will allow them to give and receive more happiness. Happy children mean a brighter future for everyone!
If you enjoyed reading about happiness in children, remember this is just one of many ways to ‘bend’ reality, tap into powers beyond your conscious existence… and connect with your infinite self.
Take what you need and start truly giving back. You will discover happiness through the power of giving! Set up our future generations for a positive change.