Stephen Post and Jill Neimark wrote a fascinating book called Why Good Things Happen to Good People. It shares some exciting scientific research proving a connection between doing good and living a longer, healthier, happier life. In it, one new discovery for me was generativity.
Apparently the term generativity was first used by psychologist Erik Erikson. Since then scientists have used it to mean selfless giving to others, particularly for future generations. So “generativity means nurturing others so that they are better able in turn to manifest their own gifts of love,” 1 Some of their scientific findings include that it:
+ Links to spirituality,
+ Gives better health habits in middle age, and
+ Connects to social skills, empathy and self-esteem.
A key researcher noted that “good deeds allow us to see the good in our own nature, [and] to develop a certain confidence about ourselves that helps us through difficult times.” 2
Generativity is a fantastic word! Of course the concept is not new, to Christians at least, but it encapsulates so much for us as stewards – related to our care for the earth, planned giving, our personal dreams for our children and grandchildren, and a desire to expand God’s ministries through how we live our lives.
Generativity – may you find examples of it in people all around you, and encourage it in your own living, as well!
Your partner in ministry,
1 – Stephen Post and Jill Neimark, Why Good Things Happen to Good People, p. 46.
2 – Paul Wink of Wellesley College, who did a longitudinal study of 200 high school students from the 1920s to the present; ibid., p. 50.