Did you know that kinder people live healthier and longer lives? Did you know that people who volunteer have less aches and pains? It’s a unique phenomenon, but not so unique that you can’t experience the same.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines altruism as “the unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others” and “feelings and behavior that show a desire to help other people and a lack of selfishness”.
Have you ever wondered why we laugh? I don’t know about you, but most of the time I laugh because something is funny. But even more than that, I laugh because it feels good.
The same can be said for helping, encouraging and saying positive things about people. Research shows that when we act on the behalf of other people, we are physiologically affected – in a postive way. Not only does this kind of behavior affect the other person in a positive way, it also reduces our own levels of coritsol (the stress hormone) and lowers our blood pressure and breathing rates. Interesting, yes?
This phenomenon is often called the “helper’s high”. We’ve all heard of a runner’s high, right? I think I’ve experienced it like once, maybe. But the helper’s high is just that, a high from helping others. Think about it for just a minute. When you do or say something nice to someone else, you feel good. When you help someone pick up the stack of books or papers he dropped, help pick up someone who has fallen, hugged someone who is sad or encouraged someone who is on the brink of giving up – you actually feel better about yourself.
I read not too long ago about a study suggesting that when a man feels loved by his wife, he is less likely to experience chest pain which can signal a heart attack. Or it could be that he’s blatantly unaware of the pain because of the overwhelming beauty of his wife, but I digress.
The helper’s high is said to also increase immunity. You can have better health overall just by lifting others up.
Each December for the last several years, I’ve been a part of a group called the PAK 31. Personal Acts of Kindness for the 31 days of December. These personal acts of kindness can range from something as simple as leaving a $1 bill taped with a note “Surprise! Love, PAK 31” in the dollar bin at Target; gifting a hot chocolate to a cold crossing guard on the way to school (my daughter’s favorite); mailing thank you cards to overseas soldiers. The list is endless. And the amount of happiness I get out of PAKing is immeasurable. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t do these things just because they make me feel good. I do these things because I know these are the right things to do.
Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
What can you do, starting now, to benefit others? What can you say or do to lift up someone close to you?
Please take a minute to consider the questions asked in this blog post and comment below.
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