#53 I want to make you feel good

June 30, 2018

I’m going to start this post with an unapologetically indulgent and broad statement. One of my favourite things about being human is our internal battles against our natural instincts.

 

I was raised with a set of ethics and prejudices formed, like many people, by my family, friends, community, schools, country, digested media, survival instincts and with one religious and one atheist parent. I have learned to stop accepting the last thing I heard as fact and have discovered that vigorous debate with those holding views and beliefs opposed to mine is a much more fulfilling way to form opinions. These conversations have led me to a place of eternal grey – much to the annoyance of my wife who frequently hears the answer “yes and no” fall from my lips when she asks me the most basic of questions.

 

Despite this, I have found that there are a couple of universal truths that survive the most determined interrogation. The one I wish to use as a jumping-off point is ‘the worst possible misery for everyone really is worse than the greatest possible happiness for everyone’.

 

With this hanging in our minds, we can begin to search for the things that make us happy and that cause misery in no one. Maybe fair-trade chocolate and yoga?

 

One thing we know causes happiness, with a few important caveats around consent, is doing things for others. *Studies have found that spending money on others rather than ourselves makes us feel better. This simple truth may be the basis for charitable giving and a key motive for charity fundraising, so why do we not use it more often? Catholic guilt?

 

As a fundraiser and a human, I have made countless small regular donations to causes that I care for because I understand the need and appreciate their efforts to make a difference to the lives of those I cannot reach without their help.

 

[Internal battle enters from stage left] The last paragraph I wrote made me feel self-conscious. I felt that by writing this I would be perceived as a show-off and that I shouldn’t boast or brag about giving to charity. I rewrote it three times before accepting that this is my whole point! I give to charity. It makes me feel good and you and I should be proud of that.

 

The other reason why I have made these donations is because I was asked. I am a face-to-face fundraiser and I know that some people do not like what I do, and by extension do not like me. I have wrestled with the universal truth and found that the one-in-ten that donate to me and my ilk outweigh that one-in-ten that get annoyed by me because their annoyance will fade yet the good feeling will last for as long as their gift for me and the new donor.

 

Each day, people like me are in the shopping centres and streets of the world asking you to give. Asking you to help. Asking you to feel good about yourself and trying to feel good about themselves too, so why not stop, have a chat, and if you think you deserve a little happiness you can reach for your credit card and make that gift.

 

*https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms15964.pdf

*http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/Dunn%20Aknin%20%20Norton%20-2014%20CD_bfccfc43-4139-476a-904b-ebcf855ab7c3.pdf

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