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Why Good Things Happen to Good People: The Exciting New Research that Proves the Link Between Doing Good and Living a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life Hardcover – May 8, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Post, a professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University, outlines, as the book's subtitle puts it, "the exciting new research that proves the link between doing good and living a longer, healthier, happier life." With former Psychology Today features editor Neimark, Post cites a raft of studies (some of it funded by his Institute for Research on Unlimited Love) showing that qualities like gratitude, celebration, forgiveness and compassion are not only good for the recipients of your generosity-they're good for you too, leading to better health and longer life. Post details a self-help program based on his Love and Longevity Scale, tested on 339 college students, to measures how high you score on each quality. He also offers anecdotes (like the story of a five-year-old girl who forgave the shooter whose bullet paralyzed her) and advice to illustrate how to practice altruistic qualities. Forgiveness, for example, can be pursued through a Buddhist breathing meditation or by communing with a higher power. Post's advice to spend time helping others is grounded not only in research but in an optimistic faith in human nature.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Advance Praise for Why Good Things Happen to Good People

“In writing so compellingly about the importance of lifelong giving, Stephen Post and Jill Neimark have actually modeled their own principle by giving all of us a gift.  Bringing together a summary of new scientific data on altruism, a compendium of moving stories of human compassion, and a new survey tool to assist in self-examination, this book convincingly demonstrates that ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ can indeed provide a joyful path towards a fulfilled life.”

Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, director, Human Genome Project and author of The Language of God

“Stephen Post and Jill Neimark make the scientific case for generosity eloquently, humanely, and compellingly. This book meets Nietzsche’s criterion for good philosophy: ‘Change your life!’”
Martin E. P. Seligman, PhD, Fox Leadership Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, and author of Learned Optimism and Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment

“In my entire lifetime I have never read a book that presents the benefits of giving for the giver as well as this one does, and using such powerful science in the process.”
Robert H. Schuller, founder of The Crystal Cathedral

“Stephen Post and Jill Neimark have brought together the main findings from the new science of genuine love and translated them into helpful, practical advice that the reader can easily apply. Those who take this book to heart will surely make their lives better, and will help to make the world a better place as well.”

—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, PhD, professor of psychology, Claremont Graduate University, and author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

“This book is chock-full of good stuff. Read, enjoy and be uplifted!”

Millard Fuller, founder and president of the Fuller Center for Housing and founder of Habitat for Humanity

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway (May 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767920171
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767920179
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #958,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We are blessed to live in Cleveland with the opportunity to hear Dr. Post on occasion.

Visit his web site, Institute for Research on Unlimited love (IRUL) as he just might be visiting near you, then you can feel his special quality. For me, he tells a simple truth in the first chapter, Find the Fire, when he says if he could take one word into eternity, it would be "give." Think about the "giving" in your own life, then you can see where this book will take you.

Dr. Post says "It is full of great stories of love, great science, and great suggestions for a better life. This is a book that is good for you and your loved ones. It breaks love down into ten modulations in ten chapters (celebration, generativity, forgiveness, carefrontation [courage], humor & mirth, respect, compassion, loyalty, listening, and creativity)." We agree: find the fire.
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Format: Hardcover
I had reached page 29 of "Why Good Things Happen to Good People" when I decided to go for a walk in the woods with this book and my new flute. I made myself comfortable in my favorite spot by a trickling stream and opened the book to page 30. The first words my eyes rested upon were.... "Then I walked into the woods, a chapel carved by nature." I immediately knew that I was meant to read this book.

The central theme of Post's and Neimark's book is that if we give to others from our hearts ( not from thought of benefit or reward) that we will reap benefits glorious and unimaginable. I was thrilled that the authors made the definite point that we all have different ways of giving and that once we become aware of these various avenues of sharing ourselves with others, we can expand on our abilities to do so. I personally feel that I am not as up to par with some methods of giving as I am with others. This book reassured me that even if I don't remember birthdays or think of special things to give people during the year, that some of the other activities I engage in are just as important. Activism, being a good listener, expressing joy and humor, can also contribute to lighting up people's lives. We need to find our strengths and capitalize on them. We also need to realize that we are not limited to our natural giving tendencies. "Why Good Things Happen to Good People" shares ideas as to how we can break free from a stagnant pattern and become more joyful while doing so.

I loved the authors' concept that forgiveness is also a form of giving and that holding grudges or hatred towards others negatively affects our own lives as well as the lives of those we are bearing the grudge against. This book is full of practical advice and helpful examples.
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Format: Hardcover
I opened this book expecting dry science, but what I got was an inspiring, uplifting read. Actually, the scientific studies were both convincing and interesting, and conversations with all the researchers brought the science a warmth and life. Every chapter opens with a story of a remarkable person who often overcame the odds to give to others and make a difference in the world. From a former Playboy model who founded orphanages in Haiti to a high fashion photographer who left his jetset lifestyle to photograph kids with genetic disorders and help them to feel beautiful, this book inspires from page one. There are many self-help exercises that bring a richness to the ideas in the book, and offer ways to weave giving into your life that are simple and effective. The self-rating scale is fun, too, and helps you focus on your strengths in giving. All in all, a very unusual mix of science, inspiration and self-help. Kind of like a cross between Stumbling on Happiness and Chicken Soup for the Soul.
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Format: Paperback
With a title like this, how could I not pick up this book? I love the way these authors approach positive emotion from a totally different angle - they make it about GIVING TO OTHERS. No, not money, silly! Rather, time, consideration, and respect. This book shows us that a happy and fulfilling life is within our grasp - but we have to get outside of ourselves - and express love to others - in order to experience the joy that comes from making a difference to others.

The authors outline ten ways of Giving (each of which is a different form of loving others): Celebration, Generativity, Forgiveness, Courage, Humor, Respect, Compassion, Loyalty, Listening, and Creativity. One cool thing about the book is the setup: each chapter is further divided into several "lessons," and at the end of each chapter is another segment of an assessment. By the end of the book you'll have a complete profile of yourself in a dozen different dimensions, and thus the data you need to create an action plan.
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Format: Hardcover
This book consists of 13 chapters spanning 287 pages. I'll talk a bit about what's in them and how this book just might change your life. It provides a detailed look at a subject that often "goes back burner" in our busy lives.

In ten of those 13 chapters (3 - 12), you'll find a 20-question assessment. The point of these assessments isn't to compete with others for "best score." Read the whole book, and you should draw the same conclusion (even if you're hyper competitive). The authors intend for the reader into using these as a tool for personal development. Using metrics is a fundamental aspect of managing anything, and these assessments provide that.

While giving is important, you can't always give 100% in every situation. Some will abuse that, and the drain on you will prevent you from doing good where it counts the most. Balance, moderation, and good judgment are all important when assessing your giving patterns. So, it's good to understand the many forms of giving so you can achieve the proper balance that best suits you. Think in terms of tuning up, not ramping up, your patterns of giving and you will probably have the best results.

These assessments can also lead you down the wrong path, if you aren't thinking clearly about them. For example, many of the questions appear to support behavior that involves interfering in other people's lives, "fixing" other people, and butting in where you don't belong. To reduce this, read the whole book and understand the difference between giving for selfish reasons and joyous giving. Recipients can usually pick up on this, which is why (for example) different ways of offering the same helpful advice can elicit completely different reactions.
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