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The Stranger With the Envelope

June 30, 2016

A stranger approaches a woman on the street and gives her money in an envelope. She is told to use the money to buy something for someone else.

That same stranger approaches you on the street and gives you the same amount of money. But this time the instructions are: buy something for yourself. Anything you want.

Lucky you, right?

Well, no. Turns out you’re the less lucky one in this scenario.

Researchers Elizabeth Dunn (University of British Columbia) and Michael Norton (Harvard Business School) conducted this experiment, handing out cash to strangers with instructions to buy for themselves or buy for others. When they followed up with recipients, those who spent the money on someone else overwhelmingly reported higher levels of happiness. The results were the same all over the world from India to Canada to South Africa.

Their study supports what mounting contemporary research tells us: giving makes us happier and healthier. “We make a living by what we get. But we make a life by what we give.” So said Winston Churchill. We agree. So go on, make yourself happy. Turn your talents into a fundraiser for a cause you care about, and create your giving experience today. 

Support a Cause You Care About → MORE INSPIRATION
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