November 22, 1963—a profoundly sad day in American history—is a memory that seems like yesterday. I was in a first grade classroom in Crossville, Tennessee when Mrs. Gaston told us the news: “The President has been shot.” It seemed like the world stood still for the next four days. I am reminded of the line famously spoken by President Kennedy in his Inaugural Address:
My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you,
ask what you can do for your country.
This quote ties in well with this Thanksgiving season, as we pause to spend time with our families, and consider the pioneers who came before us and cleared the land, creating the bounty we enjoy, and also consider the blessings of the freedom we cherish.
This week’s first article focuses on research about the connections between social support and happiness. Its conclusion: by giving, we feel better than when we receive, providing greater returns in the long run than getting ever does. The next article discusses the happiness derived from relationships and experiences, which we celebrate during this season. Finally, we end with an editorial that has appeared in the Wall Street Journal annually since 1961, which is about the memorable experiences of the Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford.
What Giving Gets You. “The past two decades of research on social support has mistakenly focused on how much social support you receive—not how much social support you provide. It turns out, that giving feels better, does more for you, and provides greater returns in the long run, than getting ever does.” At work, the notion of giving gives you a clearer picture of how you feel more connection at work: by being a facilitator. “In an era of do-more-with-less, we need to stop lamenting how little social support we feel from managers, coworkers and friends, and start focusing our brain’s resources upon how we can increase the amount of social support we provide to the people in our lives. The greatest predictor of success and happiness at work is social support. And the greatest way to increase social support is to provide it to others.”
Money Can Buy Happiness. “Extensive research has shown that the act of buying life experiences and giving money away can make people happier than buying material items…money can buy happiness if people make a focused effort on spending differently….rising incomes since the 1960’s have not led Americans to use their time in happier ways…buying experiences brings us together with other people and connects us with shared memories.”
The Desolate Wilderness. “Here beginneth the chronicle of those memorable circumstances of the year 1620, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, keeper of the records of Plymouth Colony, based on the account of William Bradford, sometime governor thereof:”
And in case you missed it, click here to read last week’s blog post which focuses on the insights of this year’s Nobel prizewinners in economics.
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J. Mark Nickell & Co.
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