“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

This familiar quotation attributed to Jesus by Paul is found in the Book of Acts rather than in the Gospels. (Acts 20:35) It has been used to inspire a generous spirit. Churches often say these words before passing the collection plate to receive financial offerings from the parishioners. The subtle implication is that if you give to the Church the Lord will bless you. Some Christian prosperity groups go so far as to say that if you give to their organization and the Church the Lord will make you wealthy.

Time Magazine (Oct.2, 2017) recently reported a quick and easy guide to happiness. (Oct. 2, 2017) They reported what you can do to feel better without having to revamp your entire personality. The activities they noted have been shown to ease stress or to increase happiness. Among those recommended is to think about doing someone a favor. New research shows that that’s enough for a lift, even before you act. Write a thank-you note is another. Reflecting on a friend’s impact can brighten your day and theirs. Jot down what you’re grateful for. Doing so has been linked to greater feelings of happiness. And one I especially like is to do a mini meditation of mindfulness. It can help you especially when reacting to stress.

These recommendations have been a part of religious practice for centuries: be kind to someone and do them a favor; be attentive to the needs of others; live your life with gratitude for your blessings; and take time to be silent in the presence of God to give God quality time.

In many ways it shouldn’t be a surprise that secular advice and religious practice can be the same. One doesn’t have to attach a religious label to validate good practices. As Edward Hays wrote, “Every good deed performed for a neighbor or stranger, regardless of whether we believe in the existence of God or not, is done to God.” God dwells within each of us whether we acknowledge it or not. And the practice of giving to others is a blessing by seeing the joy it brings to others. Giving to get is not the practice; but when you give freely for the good of someone else, joy comes to both.

The researchers for Time and Jesus seem to have come to the same conclusion. “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”