Thursday, October 25, 2007

Giving Makes You Rich

Fascinating article in Conde Nast's Portfolio magazine on how people who give more actually make more. (Correlated in that direction, and adjusted for most of the arguments you would make for why this can't be true.) Timely, too, as fall seems to by "charity giving time" in the Brumfield household. (Although it's better than December 30th, when we realize that we haven't met our yearly goals for giving and scatter money around the Internet without much targeted purpose or thought.)

How can this be? Is it a statistical anomaly—or even a metaphysical phenomenon? While the link between giving and prosperity is not as mechanistic as returns on municipal bonds, there are some very earthbound explanations for it. Psychologists and neuroscientists have identified several ways that giving makes us more effective and successful. For example, new research from the University of Oregon finds that charity stimulates parts of the brain called the caudate nucleus and the nucleus accumbens, which are associated with meeting basic needs such as food and shelter—suggesting to the researchers that our brains know that giving is good for us. Experiments have also found that people are elevated by others into positions of leadership after they are witnessed behaving charitably.

I think engendering gratitude makes you a "better" person in a lot of ways (you spend less, you're more gracious, and less competitive), and perhaps that helps your earning potential.

Hat tip to The Happiness Project Blog, one of my favorites.