Jesus confirmed in NYT

Every once in a while a media outlet will share some new “insight” that the only appropriate response, even if a bit unsophisticated, is, “No duh.” A prime example is this 1992 Time Magazine cover in which they ask “Why Are Men and Women Different?” The answer to the question serves as an enticement to read the article inside the magazine: “It isn’t just upbringing. New studies show they are born that way.” Thank goodness for the insights offered by “new studies” because without them we’d never know that there are biological differences between the genders.

I was reminded of the Time cover while reading a recent study reported on in the New York Times. The article, written by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, tells us that their new research reveals, now brace yourself, that having more money doesn’t make a person happier. No way.

Moving beyond my sarcasm, the article is interesting in that it grants credibility to something that most people have always intuitively known and something that Jesus taught. Once one has enough resources to provide for the necessities or basics of life, another additional dollar doesn’t improve personal happiness.

Instead what the new research found is that Jesus was right 2000 plus years ago when he said, “It’s more blessed to give than receive.” It turns out that sharing your resources with others is the best path to happiness.

“Interestingly, and usefully, it turns out that what we do with our money plays a far more important role than how much money we make. Imagine three people each win $1 million in the lottery. Suppose one person attempts to buy every single thing he has ever wanted; one puts it all in the bank and uses the money only sparingly, for special occasions; and one gives it all to charity. At the end of the year, they all would report an additional $1 million of income. Many of us would follow the first person’s strategy, but the latter two winners are likely to get the bigger happiness bang for their buck.”

Part of the research included giving people $20. Some were told to spend it on themselves while others were told to spend it buying something for someone else. Here’s what they found…

“When we follow up with people who receive cash from us, those whom we told to spend on others report greater happiness than those told to spend on themselves.”

Have you experienced the joy of giving not just your money but your time as well? For all my mocking of this new research that tells us what Jesus already told us and human experience verified for thousands of years, the reality is that I still struggle with this issue. I repeatedly fall into the trap of thinking that if I only had _________, then I’d be happier. I repeatedly find myself seeing things that others have and knowing that I’d be happier if I could only have the same.

Jesus teachings should be enough for me and many days they are. But every once in a while it’s good to see some new research that comes along and verifies that what he said is still true.

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