Leading article: Be generous, be happy

Share
Related Topics

You can be forgiven for turning your thoughts in upon yourself just now.

You may have gone all philosophical, wondering how it is that the banks have been given billions of pounds of your money – to allow them to pay out millions in bonuses to fat cat employees – which you are going to have to pay for through higher taxes next year. Or you may be trying to work out how exactly you are going to be hit by the 6.4 per cent annual cuts said to be looming in the nation's budgets for higher education, transport, housing, defence and all the rest. But set all that aside for a moment.

Money hasn't made you happy to date. According to the recent report by the Young Foundation, prosperity has, inversely, created a psychologically fragile society in which increased wealth has been accompanied by soaring levels of individual isolation and stress. This feel-bad factor is linked to an attenuation in our personal relationships. The rise of individualism and family breakdown has outweighed the benefits of greater material abundance. As society has become more fractured, we have become more wretched. Part of that fragmentation, the report suggests, is the subliminal impact of the widening disparity between rich and poor. The wider that gap, the more dejected we become.

The irony, of course, is that we are entering upon the season in which we are supposed to redirect our attention away from ourselves and towards others. Giving not receiving is the ancient message of our nation's Christmas tradition. That is why, at this time of year, The Independent runs an appeal in which we present the work of three charities and tell stories from across the globe of remarkable and resilient people who, in different ways, are trying to make the world a better place.

If fragmentation is exacerbating our woes, then perhaps making unexpected gestures of solidarity will do the opposite. Only connect, as E M Forster famously said. Perhaps you will find that an unprovoked act of generosity will do more than bring some good into the lives of individuals who struggle on in situations far more wretched than most of us can comprehend. It may do you some good too. Go on, surprise yourself: try a random act of kindness.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

‘They’ve seen the future – and got it for a song’: the unlikely history of Canary Wharf

Jack Brown
 

i Editor's Letter: Science versus religion in the three-parent baby debate

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee