How Living the Law of Abundance Can Bless Your Life
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” -Charles Dickens
It has been said that it is better to give than to receive. I fully believe this to be true because the feeling we get from giving is so wonderful that there aren’t enough words to describe just how great we feel. When we give, we feel joy, love, and all of those warm “fuzzy” feelings and every cliche associated with them.
I think it’s important to graciously receive as well. If people don’t receive the gifts we give, then giving is useless. There is a two-way street there, for sure. But giving requires more of a sacrifice than getting and therefore the reward for giving is greater. When we sacrifice our time, our money, and our talents to help someone in need the sacrifice results in a greater reward.
This is something I’ve found to be true in my own life. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and as part of our membership I have elected to donate 10% of my income to the Church. At times the sacrifice to donate that 10% is so great that it could mean the difference between having a roof over my family’s head or not and sometimes the sacrifice is as natural as breathing and doesn’t take anything from me. At times I make the sacrifice with little faith, hoping that all will work out. Other times I make it fully believing and understanding that my sacrifice will be rewarded. However, every time I have followed through on that sacrifice I have seen a blessing in my own life. Sometimes it’s only a small blessing, like just being able to live in our apartment for another month or having enough food to eat in spite of how close it comes to not having enough. But either way, when I make the sacrifice I find that my sacrifice is rewarded with a blessing.
During a trying time for my family, we made the decision to pay that 10%, knowing full well that there just might not be enough to survive until the next paycheck. However, after that sacrifice we received a very great, very needed blessing. That sacrifice became the turning point in our situation that led to receiving that great blessing and many more that followed. This is usually how these things work. We receive great and simple blessings for our willingness to sacrifice. It’s not just a religious principle, it’s a scientific one as well. The blessings we receive for making those sacrifices are notable and profound.
In a talk given at Brigham Young University, Arthur C. Brooks, an American social scientist, musician, columnist for the New York Times, and president of the American Enterprise Institute illustrates why living the law of abundance is actually beneficial to you, your life, and even your finances. In the talk, titled “Why Giving Matters” he shares a study that he headed which observed what happens when people give. In this study, they were able to find that giving actually created an abundance. He states, “Specifically, here’s what I found. If you have two families that are exactly identical—in other words, same religion, same race, same number of kids, same town, same level of education, and everything’s the same—except that one family gives a hundred dollars more to charity than the second family, then the giving family will earn on average $375 more in income than the nongiving family—and that’s statistically attributable to the gift.” Giving to others and living the law of abundance can bless your life in many ways even helping you financially.
However, money isn’t the only thing that we can become rich in. People have also been shown to be happier, healthier, and live a more abundant life all around. Brooks expresses that giving and generosity make people happier. He states: “It turns out that the data on happiness and charitable giving are beyond dispute. People who give to charity are 43 percent more likely than people who don’t give to say they’re very happy people. People who give blood are twice as likely to say they’re very happy people as people who don’t give blood. People who volunteer are happier. The list goes on. You simply can’t find any kind of service that won’t make you happier.” So not only can giving make you rich in money, but it can also make you rich in the things that matter most. Happiness can’t be bought but spending money on others can make you happier. Everyone can use a little more happiness in their lives.
To add to Brooks’ research, there is also more evidence of how giving can bless our lives. In a book titled The Paradox of Generosity, Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson state as well that by giving we receive and that this is not just a religious principle. They state, “Generosity is paradoxical. Those who give, receive back in turn. By spending ourselves for others’ well-being, we enhance our own standing. In letting go of some of what we own, we better secure our own lives. By giving ourselves away, we ourselves move toward flourishing. This is not only a philosophical or religious teaching; it is a sociological fact.” It isn’t just a religious idea, giving actually makes you live more abundantly. If you give, you will receive.
This also works in the reverse, if we hold onto things we will lose them. Davidson and Smith speak on this as well, “The generosity paradox can also be stated in the negative. By grasping onto what we currently have, we lose out on better goods that we might have gained. In holding onto what we possess, we diminish its long-term value to us. By always protecting ourselves against future uncertainties and misfortunes, we are affected in ways that make us more anxious about uncertainties and vulnerable to future misfortunes. In short, by failing to care for others, we do not properly take care of ourselves.” In other words, our success in a way is dependent on the success of others and if they fail, we fail. If we can’t take care of others, then we aren’t taking care of ourselves.
This idea, the paradox of generosity isn’t new and shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. It has been a religious principle for centuries and also has been taught by many people. Just as Smith and Davidson point out. They state, “The paradox of generosity should not be surprising. Very many wise observers of human life across all of recorded history have taught different versions of the generosity paradox.” From a Hebrew proverb to Buddha, to a Hindu proverb, and even to Jesus of Nazareth, each in their own words has taught the principle of the generosity paradox.
But even with the wise words of religious leaders, there is also the scientific evidence of it. Smith and Davidson conducted a study of Americans’ belief and practices of generosity. In this “nationally representative survey of Americans’ practices and beliefs about generosity,” over hundreds of interviews, they discovered this in summary, “What we have learned is the following. First, the more generous Americans are, the more happiness, health, and purpose in life they enjoy. This association between generous practices and personal well-being is strong and highly consistent across a variety of types of generous practices and measures of well-being. Second, we have excellent reason to believe that generous practices actually create enhanced personal well-being. The association between generosity and well-being is not accidental, spurious, or simply an artifact of reverse causal influence. Certain well-known, explicable causal mechanisms explain to us the specific ways that generous practices shape positive well-being outcomes. Third, the way Americans talk about generosity confirms and illustrates the first two points. The paradox of generosity is evident in the lives of Americans.” So the more generous we are, the more we share, the more we give, the more we will see in return. Our lives will be better, happier, and we will feel more fulfilled.
The results of their findings, as well as other scientific findings, are clear and precise–the more we give the more we will be blessed. Brooks found the same finding in his study as well as Davidson and Smith. The scientific evidence is clear; when we give, we receive. As Davidson and Smith state in their book most succinctly, “Giving money, volunteering, being relationally generous, being a generous neighbor and friend, and personally valuing the importance of being a generous person are all significantly, positively correlated with greater personal happiness, physical health, a stronger sense of purpose in life, avoidance of symptoms of depression, and a greater interest in personal growth. Therefore, giving is a blessing for you and for me.
So if you ever wonder whether it’s worth the effort to give, I would implore you to remember what Davidson and Smith say on the matter, “People may rightly wonder whether being a generous person and acting generously is a costly course of life. They might ask whether spending money, time, attention, energy, and emotions on and for the good of others proves to be a net loss in the overall scheme of things. The answer here is clear and compelling. Greater generosity is clearly, positively associated with many of the characteristics that most people consider essential to a good life: happiness, health, purpose, and growth. That is a significant finding with major implications for living.” “Major implications,” indeed. Living the law of abundance is a formula for a happy life.
Homework: Study the blessings of living the law of abundance. Whether that’s actually looking at the science of giving or whether that’s just taking a study of your own life and how your life changes in a positive way after implementing the law of abundance. Either way, when you are looking at the evidence for how living the law of abundance can bless your life, the evidence is there. Living the law of abundance is about giving to others as well as giving to yourself. If we only live the law of abundance we will see the blessings abundantly in our lives.
Author: Ashley Christensen
BYU Talk – https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/arthur-c-brooks_giving-matters-2/ The Paradox of Generosity: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=QGvrAwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=giving+to+receive&ots=3lY0XAoLE_&sig=1GoeYYGzEOxUBfCiew1trUVWhC0#v=onepage&q=46&f=false