The happiness we feel after a particular event or activity diminishes each time we experience that event, a phenomenon known as hedonic adaptation. But giving to others may be the exception to this rule, according to research forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
In two studies, psychology researchers Ed O’Brien (University of Chicago Booth School of Business) and Samantha Kassirer (Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management) found that participants’ happiness did not decline, or declined much slower, if they repeatedly bestowed gifts on others versus repeatedly receiving those same gifts themselves. (1)
We like to receive. And we love to give.
But why do any of those two?
How can giving be meaningful if receiving is not?
How can receiving be meaningless if giving is not?
When you see two obvious paths in front of you…
Try and look out for the third one!
It is the goal of philosophy to question the obvious.
And here we have two very obvious options…
A wise man will never ask for anything. But neither will he give anything back. In a cosmos built of dirt, there is no point to try to reach the stars. In a cosmos full of butterflies, there is nothing you can receive. Look at the calm lake. Feel the deep dark forest inside you.
You cannot give anything to anyone. For there is only you.
There is no point in receiving anything. For it is you who will get it.
Try to clap with one hand.
You can do it.