help others, be happy

I nearly drowned in my Twitter feed last night. There’s a tremendous amount of disappointing news out there, about people in the public eye, making choices that serve nobody but themselves.  

But then I read this study from my alma mater, the LaFollette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Basically, “[b]eing motivated to help and believing your work makes a difference is associated with greater happiness.”

“More and more research illustrates the power of altruism,” Moynihan says, “but people debate whether we behave altruistically because of hidden self-interest, such as the desire to improve how others see us. Our findings make a simple but profound point about altruism: helping others makes us happier. Altruism is not a form of martyrdom, but operates for many as part of a healthy psychological reward system.”

As Adam Grant’s previous research notes, there are givers, takers, and matchers in the workplace. Givers are more productive, on the whole. And now we know they’re happier, too. 

That pleases me, to no end. Because altruism makes me happy… but validation? Ecstatic. 



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