The new book "The Paradox of Generosity," by University of Notre Dame professors Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson, explains data and research that show how and why people give and how being generous affects our well-being.
Can generosity be learned? Yes, according to Notre Dame professor Christian Smith. Smith is co-author of the book “The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose” and gave a lecture recently at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Smith cited his research showing how our parents, our social networks and the calls to give that we hear in our faith communities heavily influence whether we become people who happily give back to their communities and to charities.
And people who are generous are happier and healthier, Professor Smith has found. No matter their income levels or bank accounts, they believe they live lives of abundance and want to share those blessings with others.
Generosity comes to mind now, while we are in the midst of our annual Campus Crusade. Our students will participate in the annual walkathon on May 11. They are seeking pledges to raise money for their school. Through Campus Crusade, we hope to inspire our students to learn the value of giving back. They have been encouraged to share the news of their Scecina experience with others to emphasize the value of a Catholic education.
The students themselves experience generosity every day at Scecina: the legacy of Father Thomas Scecina’s selfless service to others; Scecina’s programs, facilities and tuition assistance that are the tangible effects of many generous donors; the teachers, advisors and coaches who give up their own time to help students. In return we want our young people to learn to “pass it on.” We hope giving and generosity become second nature to them.
We learn through our Catholic-Christian faith that it is through giving that we receive. It’s a lesson that many of you can attest to in your personal lives. In “The Paradox of Generosity,” Professor Smith and co-author Hilary Davidson write:
“Giving money, volunteering, being relationally generous, being a generous neighbor and friend, and personally valuing the importance of being a generous person are all significantly, positively correlated with greater personal happiness, physical health, a stronger sense of purpose in life, avoidance of symptoms of depression and a greater interest in personal growth.”
On May 11, we’re walking together, in the spirit of community and generosity, for our school, Scecina Memorial High School. It’s just one way we at Scecina teach students to look and to give extra beyond themselves as servant-leaders.
These are the moments we hope will become fond memories and will influence a new generation of generous givers.
Thank you very much for being generous givers and for providing opportunities for the students of today to learn this habit and shape our world of tomorrow.
Blessings to you and yours,