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Helping Others Boosts Health

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Life coach Cheryl Hunter challenges her listeners to help others in order to help themselves. Her counsel suggests that by helping others you get rid of those purposeless, empty, and unfulfilling feelings that can affect health. She is not alone in that counsel; helping others can take countless forms and come from many motivations.

 

 

This is not new counsel. In the Bible we read similar statements: “Freely you have received, freely give.” – Matt 10:8

Recently, there has been much research to develop a roadmap showing how helping others helps to promote happiness and health.

Aderman in an early study found that those who were in a positive mood (happy) were more likely to help others in some manner. Giving and happiness appear to be closely connected in the research. In an experiment with children, happy children were inclined to give to others more than their unhappy counterparts. Dr. Andrew Weil suggests that being kind and generous to others can make you happy, and that this happiness spreads upon contact. If you associate with an unhappy person, it may affect your giving. He suggests that care should be taken with whom we associate; if that contact is negative or unhappy it could lower your ability to be happy and share, consequently reducing your interest in giving.

We get a glimpse of how giving can do this in a study reported by Professor Emmons, a U.C. Davis psychologist and editor in chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology. In one of his studies, “those who regularly practice grateful thinking improved their happiness score by 25%, which in turn is a prerequisite for the willingness to give.”

A 19th century Christian writer, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, “Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.” Science and Health, p.57

My own experience of helping others has never failed to bless me. It has enriched my life with an ever-widening band of friends as a result of being helpful to them in ways that were meaningful to them, even when it appeared that it would be costly to me.

Recently, I offered our home free of charge for a wedding to a couple we knew in the community. The good feelings resulting from helping them and interacting with the guests created good will, happiness, and healthy attitudes for me and for my family. In validating Cheryl Hunter’s counsel that “if you’re focused upon others, you don’t see your own problems,” giving seems to act as a “rising tide that lifts all boats,” creating positive feelings within as well as in those whom the giving touches.

photo from Stock Images/glowimages.com

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About Don Ingwerson

Previously in the education sector as Superintendent of Schools, Don Ingwerson now serves as the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in Southern California and corrects misconceptions about Christian Science. Don is a frequent blogger about health and spirituality.
  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    ” If you associate with an unhappy person, it may affect your giving. He suggests that care should be taken with whom we associate; if that contact is negative or unhappy it could lower your ability to be happy and share, consequently reducing your interest in giving.”

    I don’t see how this accurately coincides with your christian beliefs,Don. I’m pretty sure it says in that bible somewhere that you should love your enemies as much as your friends and to give unconditionally?

    But, that’s besides the point. In this article you are merely peddling new age dogma. This dogma is in place for those who you have quoted to make money on pseudo/junk Science.

    I agree that helping out your fellow Humans is a wise & noble gesture,but, you should do it because you really care about the outcome fort that other person NOT how much joy you receive from it. When that buffoon, Dr.(?) Weil suggests such nonsense he is only re-directing your attention. You should always get to know someone before you give them a lot of access. But, giving your time at a food shelter doesn’t put you at risk and helps many!

  • Don Ingwerson

    Brian, thanks for commenting on the article and I can identify with much of what you say. The over arching idea is that happiness is connected to one’s health. Giving can make one happy if, as you indicate, it is done with the right motive behind it. The only comment you present which I would totally be at odds with would be your new age comment. Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts.