By Stephen Post
The words “’tis more blessed to give than to receive” echo down the centuries in the famous prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, “not so much to be loved as to love,” and in Shakespeare’s renowned lines on the “quality of mercy” that blesses the giver as well as the receiver. The paradox is that in the giving of self lies the unsought discovery of a happier self. The echo is heard in modern times as well. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself….” Dr. Albert Schweitzer affirmed, “The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” Dickens captured the refrain in the person of Scrooge, for whom buoyancy returns with each new expression of benevolence. Does happiness really ensue from benevolent love?