Why do people give? Who would have thought that such a simple question would make Charles Darwin scratch his head? Actually, he did more than scratch his head; he obsessed over this one issue. And can you blame him? After all, the idea of being generous is counter to his principle of survival-of-the-fittest. This principle is built on the understanding that we need to look out for #1 and that we are to outcompete the other in order to survive. If you think about it, that is the opposite of what it means to be generous and giving.
I wish I could let Mr. Darwin know that there is a simple answer to that simple question. And it is not a just a theory or a cliché, science has discovered why we give and act unselfishly. It is how we are designed; giving is in our DNA!
Without going into great detail, let me explain. A study was conducted by two doctors (who specialize in brain injuries) to try to determine what happens to the brain when someone gives. They discovered that when someone decided to make a donation, even when they knew it was going to cost them their own money, the brain reacted in a way they did not expect. They discovered that parts of the midbrain lit up – the same region that controls cravings for food and sex, and that same region became active when people were given money to put into their own accounts.
Their studies showed that generosity is not just a willful action, but it is something ingrained in our anatomy. Of course, none of this surprises me. After all, we are made in the image of God, who, at His very core, is generous. I think that is why when we are generous, we feel good and joyful because we are more connected to our Creator. Maybe this is why the Apostle Paul tells us: “This is my last gift to you, this example of a way of life: a life of hard work, a life of helping the weak, a life that echoes every day those words of Jesus our King, who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35 The Voice).
I don’t know about you, but I hope the people who know me will be able to say, “That Marty, he is defined by Generosity.” Just saying…