Friday, February 5, 2010

The Hypothesis: Giving is Good

The experiment begins in a week and a half, so it's time to lay out the expectations. We'll start with our hypothesis, which is the foundational point of any good experiment:
Giving is good. 

While having the benefit of being concise, this hypothesis is lacking in detail, so let me flesh it out a bit.

Giving away my full income for 40 days - from February 17 through March 28 - will produce tangible beneficial changes in my life and/or thinking.

Now, the question is why I would make such a hypothesis. The answer, as with all other hypotheses, is simple: because I've already seen that giving seems to produce such benefits on a smaller scale.

I began giving regularly to charity in spring of 2008. Shortly thereafter, I received a raise at work. (I'd already received an increase in duties - an effective promotion during a "re-organization" - but no raise came along with the increase in duties.) The raise was enough to fully compensate for the amount being given away to charity, plus some.

And this came right at the time where we were trying to figure out how my wife could leave her job to return to school full time. The raise was enough to allow this option without having to give up the charitable giving.

Now, even for a skeptical person like me, something like that captures your attention. Up until then, I'd been giving solely because it was a worthwhile effort ... but now I was beginning to wonder if maybe there wasn't some sort of tangible karmic benefit as well.

This sounded irrational to me, of course, and I was about to write it off ... but then I got an e-mail from an agent, saying that she liked my writing on the Physics site and wanted to represent me to get a book deal. Within just a couple of months, I had the contract to write String Theory for Dummies. My first book was coming out ... and I was getting paid an up-front advance which, while not an extravagant amount overall, was definitely a welcome addition to our income.

The result of these two events was for me to begin thinking about this idea of giving not as just a worthwhile activity in its own right, but as something which is actually functionally useful.

Is such a viewpoint rational?

I believe it is, even if I don't understand the mechanism through which such a benefit manifests. And, more importantly, since this is an opinion about physical reality - a physical law, if you will - then it's open to empirical study. Thus, the 40 Days of Giving experiment.

Does the act of giving result in the manifestation of positive abundance in your life?

Let's see what happens ...