Inspired to do generosity research

Sonja Lyubomirsky

Our lab first became interested in generosity as an outgrowth of the research we do on positive activity interventions (PAIs), such as counting blessings, practicing optimism, putting one’s strengths into practice, writing letters of gratitude, and performing acts of kindness. We were also pursuing a separate project with a technology partner that had the capability of passively recording social interactions of large groups of people. When the call for proposals came along, combining acts of kindness and measuring social interactions seemed a great fit.

On a personal level, I have been inspired by a number of “generosity heroes.” A recent article in Business World mentions two influential “Warrens” that have also inspired me: Warren Buffet and Rick Warren (for whom I previously worked at his non-profit organization). Both have had great financial success and give away more than 90% of their income.

Some of Buffet’s wisdom and down-to-earth sayings:
Earning: Never depend on a single source of income.
Saving: Never save what is left after spending; spend what is left after saving.
Giving: I’m giving 99% away. Enjoy the process far more than the proceeds.
Spending: If you buy things you don’t need, you’ll soon sell things you need.
Legacy: Leave your kids only enough to do something but not enough to do nothing.

Some of Warren’s reminders:
Never confuse your valuables with your value. Your net-worth is not your self-worth.
Budgeting is telling your money where you want it to go rather than wondering where it went.
Do your givin’ while you’re livin’, so you’ll be knowin’ where it’s goin’.
Just because you can afford something doesn’t mean you should have it.
Use money. Love people. Many people do the reverse.

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