The concept that happiness lies in giving is nothing new. But then, it is also true that we need constant reminders of age-old wisdom, and the practices that are guaranteed to make us happy. One of the absolutely surefire paths to true happiness lies in giving–it fills both the giver and the recipient with joy. Giving is definitely the most emotionally and psychologically fulfilling act in life. By giving, we feel better, especially when we’re sad, or unhappy. Giving lifts our spirits, liberates the soul. It strengthens relationships, brings a feeling of accomplishment. Giving heals and fills us with inner peace.
To celebrate #GivingTuesday, here is my book review of The Giving Way to Happiness: Stories and Science Behind the Life-Changing Power of Giving by Jennifer Santi.
Published by Tarcher
About the book:
We often focus on how our gifts can help those in need. But the act of giving actually improves our own lives as well. In The Giving Way to Happiness, Jenny Santi overturns conventional thinking about what it takes to be happy by revealing how giving to others—whether in the form of money, expertise, time, or love—has helped people from all walks of life find purpose and joy. Drawing on the wisdom of great thinkers past and present, as well as cutting-edge scientific research, Santi makes an eloquent and passionate case that oftentimes the answers to the problems that haunt us, and the key to the happiness that eludes us, lie in helping those around us.
This book is filled with inspiring stories told firsthand by Academy Award winner Goldie Hawn, Noble Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, supermodel Christy Turlington Burns, Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp, philanthropist Richard Rockefeller, environmentalist Philippe Cousteau, activist Ric O’Barry, bestselling author Isabel Allende, ALS survivor Augie Nieto, and many others from all over the world. Despite their diverse backgrounds, they have all found unexpected happiness and fulfillment through giving. This book tells us not just how they changed the world but also how their acts changed their very own lives.
In addition, Santi reveals:
- How altruism involves far more than suppressing basic selfish urges. Rather, we are wired to give, as it activates the same pleasure centers of the brain stimulated by food, sex, and drugs
- How helping others—whether by walking a friend through a struggle that you’ve also experienced or by supporting a cause to honor a loved one’s memory—can be a healthy way to deal with adversity and process grief
- The unexpected reasons why those who “gave it all up” to make a difference, and who face the direst situations, are nevertheless some of the happiest, most fulfilled, and least angst-ridden people you’ll ever meet.
- Practical, universally applicable lessons on what kind of giving makes people happy and what doesn’t. How do you discover giving that is unique to you and makes you feel good?
In this inspiring book, Santi turns conventional wisdom upside down about what it takes to be happy and reveals the surprising reasons that have led so many people to live lives full of meaning, purpose and happiness
My book review
I read this wonderful book a few months ago, thanks to an advance review copy from the author.
So we all know that true happiness and fulfillment is when we help others—by giving. Through the inspiring and intriguing stories in the book, Jenny Santi introduces the reader to real people who share their story of turning philanthropists, how they got involved, and why it makes them feel enriched. She demonstrates how giving to those in need has the power to transform the life of not only the recipient, but also the giver.
What I loved:
- This book shows how happiness is within everyone’s reach through the simple act of giving. If you want to be happy, there are a number of ways to reach that goal.
- Moving personal interviews with celebrities we love, and people like you and me: truly, when it comes to giving, size does not matter.
- She talks about the science of purpose and the price of not having one.
- The message that happiness is not focusing on self, but in giving of oneself to others.
- The science and research, with heart-warming case studies, explaining why
- The author’s passionate belief that your life changes when you change lives.
- The author explores “donor fatigue” and explains ways to overcome it.
- Well written book, insightful.
- A reminder to find ways to give outside of work, since volunteering can reduce stress levels far better than lazing around somewhere.
I think The Giving Way to Happiness is a wonderful debut from Jenny Santi. Of course, one can argue that a majority of the interviews in the book are with the superrich, but the author specifically makes the point that it is okay if you have no money, because one doesn’t have to be rich to give. Donate your time, or anything that matches your lifestyle.
While I loved all the stories in the book, the one that really stood out for me, is the story of Joshua Williams—who set up his Joshua Heart Foundation when he was barely five. Five! Can you imagine? When asked why he chose the name Joshua Heart Foundation, he said, “because I want to put my heart in my mission”—which is to end hunger in the world.
Joshua is now 12. His message?
“Basically, just always go with it. Go do your passion and your mission in life. I believe that everyone has a purpose in life and that it is their choice to follow it. If you do so, it will be a great achievement. My purpose in life is to help those in need. If I didn’t do this I would have no purpose”.
Joshua’s Heart Foundation has two primary goals: to “Stomp out World Hunger” and to “Break the Cycle of Poverty”. Joshua’s foundation hosts quarterly food distributions, host quarterly healthy cooking demonstration around South Florida, Weekly food distribution and provide food in backpacks for children on the weekends who otherwise would have no food. To date 450,000 pounds of food has been given to people in need.
Truly, giving is the most satisfying thing you’ll ever do.
THE GIVING WAY TO HAPPINESS shows readers that happiness and purpose can be found when we promote love, joy, peace, community, charity, caring, and self-worth. And the best way to do so is to give.
I believe we’re all put on this planet for a purpose, and we all have a different purpose . . . When you connect with that love and that compassion, that’s when everything unfolds.
– Ellen DeGeneres
About the author:
Jenny Santi is a philanthropy advisor to some of the world’s most generous philanthropists and celebrity activists. In 2013 she founded Saint & Partners, a consulting practice that has served clients including signatories of the Buffett-Gates Giving Pledge, an Academy Award-winning actress, and leading financial institutions in Europe and Asia, helping them channel their wealth, power and search for meaning towards social good. For five years beginning at only 28 she served as Head of UBS’s award-winning Philanthropy Services department based in Southeast Asia. She holds an MBA from INSEAD, went to the Wharton School as an exchange student, attended New York University’s Heyman Center for Philanthropy & Fundraising, and is a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy. An animal lover and accomplished artist, Jenny has lived in Manila, London, the French Loire Valley and Singapore, and now lives in New York.
She is passionate about helping people discover how to give their time, talents and treasures in ways that not only change the world, but also bring happines and fulfillment to their own lives.
Buy the book on Amazon (affiliate link)