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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Giving Is Good For You

It's Fall, y'all (yeah, I said it)--

Have you ever looked up the reason we feel so good whenever we give something? You know, you see something your friend would like so you buy it for them. Or you have an extra book or CD and someone tells you how much they've been looking into that subject so you give it to them. Or how about those "care bags" on Pinterest that lovely people keep in their car to pass out to the homeless?

And mind you, this isn't just a Christian thing I'm talking about. Modern psychologists actually debate whether or not giving can be classified as a "selfless act" because of the physical and psychological benefits we get from it. Check out this excerpt from Psychology Today:

"We feel so good when we give because we get what researchers call a “helpers high,” or a distinct physical sensation associated with helping. About half of participants in one study report that they feel stronger and more energetic after helping others; many also reported feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth. This is probably a literal “high,” similar to a drug-induced high: for example, the act of making a financial donation triggers the reward center in our brains that is responsible for dopamine-mediated euphoria. (For more on the “helper’s high,” check out this essay by James Baraz and Shoshana Alexander, published this month on Greater Good.)"

You can read the full article here.

Isn't it fascinating that your body has such a dramatic response to a simple act? All you have to do is THINK of giving and your body responds. The power we have been given never ceases to amaze me.

Naturally, I personally am a big advocate of giving: giving of time, acts of service, giving of gifts, or even a text/e-mail/facebook message to say "hey, I'm thinking of you"--giving of my thoughts.

Here's a list of some ideas for how you can get that dopamine-related euphoria in your life:

--Make some of those care bags to pass out in your local Downtown area to the homeless

--Go through your pantry and pull all the canned or packaged food you haven't eaten in the last month and donate it to your local food bank

--Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen

--Run a marathon for a charity organization

--Even ask a family member or friend how you can help them. For example, we go to my Grandparent's house every Sunday to help out and have a family dinner. You could also help a busy mom go grocery shopping, volunteer to watch someone's kids while they run an errand or bake some freezer friendly food for an elderly neighbor or new mother--two groups notoriously in need of extra help!

Of course, there's a bajillion ways to give. Personalize it. Listen when people talk to you, find a need they have and fill it. Eventually, it will become second nature.


PS: How awesome would it be to wake up every morning, knowing you're taking care of yourself, your family and a malnourished child living in poverty? E-mail me and I'll TELL you how awesome it is! :)

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