Stimulating Our Brains with Good Old-Fashioned Generosity

Stimulating our brains with good, old-fashioned generosity by Jason Tremblay

The following article, written by Jason Tremblay, appears in the December issue of The Resort Trades and is published here with their permission. At this time of year when many of us pause and reflect, it seems appropriate to share with you these insights on generosity, which is, as it turns out, as good for the mind as it is the heart.

Stimulating Our Brains with Good, Old-Fashioned Generosity

There is a simple calculator available at The online calculator doesn’t ask for your name or your email address in order to use it. Instead, it requires only that you input your annual salary and identify whether that number represents pounds, yen, Loonies, US dollars or Euros.

When you enter your numbers and then click the button appropriately marked “show me the money,” you instantly receive a ranking that tells you where you personally stand in the world’s measure of wealth. Enter a salary of 100,000 US dollars and you will find out you are approximately the 39,615,049th richest person in the world, earning in the top .66 percent.

Now here’s what is even more remarkable: enter a salary amount of only 10,000 US dollars and you will learn that you rank in the top 13 percent of the world’s wealthiest people. You are approximately the 798,928,823rd richest person among, what at the time the calculator was developed, was a global population of 6 billion people.

Although we know there are now more than 7 billion people on this planet, the intent of the calculator has not changed. Those of us who were fortunate to have been born in an industrialized nation often fail to realize how lucky we are. We overlook how extremely wealthy even the poorest among us are by comparison to much of the rest of the world. Instead, we focus only on those who have more and those who have most.

In the United States, the last truly generous generation included the men and women of the Great Depression. Since that time, we collectively have become more self focused and have given to those in need by smaller and smaller proportions. That’s right, Americans were more generous by percentage during the hard hit 1930s than any generation has been since.

If you are reading this issue of The Resort Trades, then you are still standing

Here in the timeshare industry, we’ve spent much of the past 3 years agonizing, grinding our teeth and holding our breath to see what will happen next. Challenges to the national and global economies have hit hard. Businesses have fallen by the wayside, families have lost their homes and few if any among us have remained untouched by the faltering economy and its fallout.

While vacation ownership may not be growing as much or as quickly as we would like, the timeshare industry is still in business. Some of the rules have changed and some of the players have bowed out, but as an industry, we are still employing people, helping support families, enriching local economies, paying taxes and providing vacation opportunities to hard working people who both need and deserve time to relax and recoup.

Food, sex, generosity and timeshares

Businesses that survived the economic depression of the 1930s typically went on to be successful. And companies that were actually founded during times of economic recession or even a full blown depression, have a particularly distinctive history of success, including IBM, Procter & Gamble and General Electric, to name a few.

Why? Because they started out as survivors and they never lost that mentality.

As we enter the holiday season, a time that is traditionally supposed to be about family, brotherly love and caring for others, we all have an opportunity to make someone else’s life easier and ironically, make ourselves happier in the process.

Studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health and others show that in fact, it really is better to give than to receive. Neuroscientists conducting brain scans and magnetic resonance imaging research on healthy adult subjects have discovered that three things “light up” the happiness centers of the brain: food, sex and giving money to charity.

Even more surprisingly, when it comes to the three big happiness makers, the brain doesn’t seem to rank one more highly than the other. Nicholas D. Kristof, author of the New York Times blog, “On the Ground” surmises in an article titled, “Our Basic Human Pleasures: Food, Sex and Giving,” that …we are hard-wired to be altruistic.

Armed with that insight you have to wonder where we could go both as individuals and as an industry if we let go of fear, greed, backbiting and infighting. What if we looked around, acknowledged our abundance, patted ourselves, our peers and even our competitors on the back, congratulating us all that we have survived the challenges of the past few years and are in fact, still standing? Then, in a spirit of giving that is not just limited to the holiday season, what if we set out to make others and ourselves a whole lot happier by stimulating the neural pathways of our brains with good, old-fashioned generosity?