Would you voluntarily look after a neighbor's pet or child without being paid? Would you give directions to someone you didn’t know? Would you donate clothes or goods to a charity? Generosity comes in many forms, but no matter how Americans practice giving, it could be the key to a happier life, according to a new study by The Ascent.
The Ascent, a subsidiary of The Motley Fool, surveyed over 1,000 Americans to explore the connection between generosity and life satisfaction. Each participant filled out the Adapted Self-Report Altruism Scale, which asked respondents if they would engage in 14 different generous behaviors. Each response was then assigned a point value, and the total value of all responses was used to determine a respondent's generosity score. Those who scored above the 75th percentile were put in the high-generosity group, and those below the 25th percentile were placed in the low-generosity group. After separating the groups, The Ascent reviewed how each group answered questions about satisfaction with their lives.
High-generosity respondents were more than twice as likely to be "very satisfied" with their life.
Seventy-four percent of high-generosity people said they were satisfied with their life overall, compared to 60% of low-generosity people. The difference is even more pronounced when looking at people who were "very satisfied" with their life. High-generosity people were more than twice as likely to be in that group.
High-generosity respondents were almost three times as likely to be "very happy" every day.
Generous people weren’t just happier overall, they were also happier more often. Seventy-seven percent of high-generosity respondents reported feeling happy daily, compared to 62% of their low-generosity counterparts (for an average of 72%). When looking at people who were "very happy" every day, the gap widened. Generous people were almost three times as likely to report being happy every day than less generous people.
High-generosity respondents were almost three times as likely to have a "very meaningful" life.
High-generosity people were more satisfied than low-generosity respondents in every corner of their lives, reporting higher rates of satisfaction with their friendships (74% vs. 52%), family life (73% vs. 67%), social life (66% vs. 48%), romantic life (61% vs. 48%), career (55% vs. 38%), and finances (46% vs. 29%).
High-generosity respondents reported having more people they could count on for various favors and support
High-generosity respondents reported having more people they could count on for various favors and support. For example, they counted an average of five people who would visit them in the hospital, compared to three among low-generosity people. They also counted more friends who would help them move, drive them to the airport, loan them $1,000 if they needed it, and pick them up at 2 a.m. if their car broke down. Also, low-generosity people were more than twice as likely to have nobody to get them to the airport or help them move, and 53% couldn't name someone who would lend them $1,000.