If you are inclined to a moment’s introspection as we wave off the old year and welcome the new, it’s a good time to consider how, exactly, you will define “happy” this New Year.
My maternal grandmother, the estimable Catherine Hamilton, was a fan of the word prosperity. I like that, and through my work and life (life’s work, actually), I have come to understand that prosperity matters most as a communal concept. An idea supported by so much data, it’s impossible to deny.
For the fortunate, who have enough and plenty more, even more does nothing to enhance the sum total of our HQ, or happiness quotient. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence to show that after attaining comfort, and maybe a few extras, adding more doesn’t make us that much happier. Harvard’s Daniel T. Gilbert has proven that even buying experiences—which are more memorable than most stuff—are seldom as satisfying as giving.
Takeaway for 2014: Human services and arts & cultural organizations asking for support aren’t really competing among each other for donor dollars. They are seeking support from the enlightened donors who already know the prosperity secret: it’s all about the common good.
Happy New Year!