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The Paradox of GenerosityGiving We Receive, Grasping We Lose$
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Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199394906

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199394906.001.0001

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How Generosity Enhances Well-Being

How Generosity Enhances Well-Being

Chapter:
(p.46) Chapter 2 How Generosity Enhances Well-Being
Source:
The Paradox of Generosity
Author(s):

Beaster-Christian Smith

Hilary Davidson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199394906.003.0003

The second chapter turns to the crucial issue of cause and effect. Does generosity actually increase well-being or, rather, is it prior well-being that produces more generosity? It may be, some skeptics will suspect, that generosity does not itself enhance well-being. Rather, they might believe, happier, healthier, and more purposeful people simply tend to behave more generously, because those kinds of people have more energy, vision, and physical capacity to be generous than unhappy, unhealthy, purposeless people. Chapter 2 demonstrates that causality runs in both directions, and outlines nine central mechanisms. Greater well-being indeed often facilitates generosity. But, at the same time, generosity also enhances well-being. It does so through specific causal mechanisms that we can understand, explain, and test. This chapter also includes four ideal typical cases to demonstrate how these mechanisms operate over the course of a person’s life.

Keywords:   generosity, well-being, causal mechanisms, neurobiology, relational ties, religious wisdom

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