How to be happier: be generous

how to be happier

I believe that happiness eludes folks for a variety of reasons.

I think one of the biggest, though, is not understanding one of the basic secrets of how to be happier:  be generous.

While that may sound like a strange path to happiness, studies confirm what I call the generosity effect.

When you are feeling down and out, one of the best things you can do to turn your attitude and heart around is to commit an act of generosity.


Remember that being generous is about more than writing a check.

It’s about being unselfish with forgiveness, grace, understanding, time, experience, money, your home, and much, more more.


You may think you don’t have the time, money, or the personality to be generous.

That is not true, and I’ll tell you why: You are already practicing generosity, and probably don’t recognize it as such.

If you are married and/or have children, you are sharing your life, wisdom, support and joy with others.

If you work outside the home, you are called upon to assist others in some fashion for your business.

If you write, you are generous with your words to inspire, inform, or comfort.


Dr. Meg Meeker wrote about competition between mothers, and encouraged acts of kindness, otherwise known as generosity:

Doing kind things for others is always good, and acting kindly toward another mother with whom we compete helps our relationship and derails the desire to compete.

If there is another mother you know who just had her third baby and you desperately want another child but can’t have one, cook her a meal and bring it to her. If there is a mother who works outside the home in a job that you think is fabulous but you know you can’t have, ask to take her child to the park one day while she’s working. Perhaps there’s a mother whose kids are number one and two on the varsity tennis team at your son’s high school and your son can’t play any sports well because he’s, well, clumsy. Send her a note telling her how well her kids are doing.


In addition to helping joy flourish, these acts and others like it can be both a balm to your hurting hearts and water to the parched ground of your souls:

Being emotionally generous in marriage creates couples who are exceedingly happy.

Demonstrating generosity to your children teaches them to be unselfish.

Volunteering gives a tremendous boost to your spirits and to those whom you serve


If you are still not convinced, I highly recommend you start intentionally practicing generosity.

Like any other skill, it becomes easier and more natural every time you do it.

Not only will you bring smiles to others, but will feel more joyful yourself!


Here are some great resources to get you started:


Generosity is not proportional to the size of your bank account but to the size of your heart.


Comment: Please share a memorable moment of generosity that you had, either as the giver or receiver.

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Just imagine. . .Responding with gratitude rather than grumbling, and enjoying more happiness and contentment. And rest assured I won't share your address!

Being grateful for unanswered prayers

being grateful for unanswered prayers

We all have unanswered prayers, although we may each know them by different names.

They are the desires of our heart, things we wish for so deeply and are so sure that we want.

Sometimes, the door slams so hard in our face on these hopes that it feels we will never even get close.


We talk a lot about gratitude here, and how easy it is to be gushingly grateful when the road is smooth and the sun shines warmly.

Today, let’s talk about being grateful for those unanswered prayers.


Many years ago, I was overweight and despaired of ever finding a boyfriend who would see me for who I really was.

I kissed an endless succession of frogs, and shed countless tears each time they hopped away.

Where was that guy, the one?

Turns out he was a work in process, just like me.


I needed to be grateful for my unanswered prayers as I grew and learned about what makes a great relationship work.



Perhaps you have suffered from dissatisfaction with your career.

Maybe you don’t like where you are, or that you’ve never found the right niche.

I struggled with this whole issue, as I never really had a clear picture of my skills and talents, or how to put them to use.

Of course, I don’t ever recall expressing gratitude for all the things I was learning that I didn’t like.

No, instead I whined and felt sorry for myself, especially when my hubby and I realized as well we were on the verge of financial difficulties.

One day, at last, events fell into place and our past experience became a foundation to help others.

That led in turn to an amazing opportunity to discover and do what I love and am very good at, too.


I didn’t know to be grateful for all the skill-building in the bumps, twists, and turns we were navigating.



You may have read about us recently moving to Tennessee and finally, finally, buying a house.

Even now, as much as I know and understand about gratitude, I was often, well, quite ungrateful during the process.

What you may not know is that we were innkeepers in New Hampshire for years and so lived on the same property as my parents.

We loved being so close, as did they.


All of us have prayed for years for them to sell the large property so they can spend more time enjoying family and traveling.

I can’t tell you how many times we have had our hopes lifted high, only to have them dashed again when nothing worked out.

Real estate is picking up, though, and there are some promising things happening.

Here is the most exciting thing, though, about this whole story:

The house across the street from our new home in Tennessee went up for sale, and my folks are the proud new owners.

With all the complaining and tears of frustration I shed over losing out on house after house, I am absolutely set back on my heels at how this arrangement came to be, to say nothing of my embarrassment over my regular grumbling.


While I was busy being ungrateful for houses lost, I lost sight that the answer to my prayer wasn’t no, but not yet.



We don’t have crystal balls that tell us when our road will smooth out, or that something really exciting is on its way.

But when we trust and pray, hope,  keep the faith, and  practice gratitude, and especially be grateful for unanswered prayers, the trip becomes easier.

Our eyes and hearts focus on the possibilities ahead rather than looking backwards.


Question: What unanswered prayer are you being grateful for today or have been in the past?

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Just imagine. . .Responding with gratitude rather than grumbling, and enjoying more happiness and contentment. And rest assured I won't share your address!


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