Stock Shop Photography LLC for Getty Images
Stock Shop Photography LLC for Getty Images

Here it is December, a time we think about giving to others. But did you know that giving could be good for your own wellbeing?


In his new book, Empty Abundance, author and philanthropist Tim McCarthy explores whether money really does buy happiness. Once you’ve reached a point of achieving a comfortable life, he concludes, you’re better off donating any extra money to the charity of your choice. Otherwise, you might find that your new disease will be anhedonia, an inability to enjoy things and activities that normally should be enjoyable.


“After making my wealth, I found that I suffered from anhedonia,” McCarthy says. “Mindful giving—intelligent and conscious giving to those who need it—turned out to be my best therapy.”


McCarthy’s conclusion is supported by research, which indicates that, while life satisfaction rises with income, everyday happiness changes little once a person earns $75,000 per year. Studies show that immediate gratification is not linked to a feeling of meaningfulness or fulfillment in life. While in a Gallup survey people in wealthy countries did rate themselves higher in “happiness” than those in poor countries, 95 percent of those surveyed in poverty-stricken countries reported leading meaningful lives, compared with under 60 percent who reported the same in wealthier countries.


“While money is important, it cannot buy purpose, significance or overall satisfaction,” McCarthy says.


Another book, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending by behavioral scientists Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, cites research on happiness indicating that the most satisfying way of using money is to invest in others. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg found that to be the case when he became among the first to join The Giving Pledge, a long-term charitable effort launched by multi-billionaires Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates that asks the wealthiest citizens to commit to giving more than half of their fortunes to philanthropy. 


“If you want to do something for your children and show how much you love them,” Bloomberg wrote in his pledge letter, “the single best thing—by far—is to support organizations that will create a better world for them and their children.” To date, 115 of our country’s 495 billionaires have pledged. If you had a prosperous 2014, are you planning to donate to charity this month? Email us you plans at rullman@vancepublishing!


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