“Happiness is not having a lot. Happiness is giving a lot.”

happiness is not having a lot

My friend Steve Bell in NYC sent this one along. It strikes me as being the perfect “Hallmark Buddha Quote,” and in fact it seems to be found largely on products on cards, iPhone cases, T-shirts, etc.

I’ve no idea what the origins of this one are. It doesn’t closely remind me of anything I’m familiar with from the Pali canon.

It bears a slight resemblance to this verse uttered to the Buddha by “a certain devata”:

What’s given bears fruit as pleasure.
What isn’t given does not:
thieves take it away, or kings;
it gets burnt by fire or lost.

And it also slightly resembles this verse, which is said to have been uttered by the Buddha himself, when he talked about the benefits of giving food:

The prudent person giving life, strength,
beauty, quick-wittedness —
the wise person, a giver of happiness —
attains happiness himself.

But neither of these remotely seems like the basis of “Happiness is not having a lot. Happiness is giving a lot.”

This does however resemble more closely a quote attributed to H. Jackson Brown, author of Life’s Little Instruction Book:

Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.

But the sentiment of the quote, which is more or less another way of saying “It’s better to give than to receive” is common enough.

The quote doesn’t seem have made its way into any books yet, according to a search of Google Books.

Anyone familiar with any canonical saying that’s even close to this quote?

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