I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver. – Maya Angelou Most people have heard that giving and volunteering are “good for the soul” but they have little, if any, actual proof. In his book, “More Give to Live”, Douglas Lawson cites research that shows how helping others can lead to improved health and emotional well-being. What are those benefits of giving?
The physical benefits include living longer with less stress, a stronger immune system, improved cardio circulation, healthier sleep and help maintaining good health.
The emotional benefits include increased self-acceptance and reducing self-absorption, a sense of control over your life, increased ability to cope with crisis, stronger feelings of personal satisfaction and enhanced compassion and empathy.
The spiritual benefits include a greater connection to the God of your understanding, more openness to spiritual guidance, more peace of mind, a sense of appreciation and self-acceptance, and more clarity about the meaning of life.
We all want to live a long, healthy, happy life, but our approach must be holistic to achieve that. This means not only tending to our physical health by adopting a healthy diet and exercise, but by paying attention to the health of our emotional and spiritual well-being. In our stress-ridden society, we are all looking for physical well-being, emotional stability and spiritual peace. When we give of ourselves, our time, money and energy, we benefit all areas of our health.
To make our giving a true gift, we should be aware of some guidelines:
- True giving requires some sacrifice on the part of the giver.
- True giving must show respect, and not condescension, toward the recipient.
- With true giving, we are grateful to the recipient for making the act of giving possible.
We don’t have to be on the level of Bill Gates or Hollywood celebrities to be able to give. If you don’t have any extra money to give, you can volunteer at a homeless shelter or a nursing home. Or, do something for an elderly neighbor like taking them a home cooked meal, or taking time to stop in for a visit, or mowing their lawn, or taking them to a doctor’s appointment. Giving includes doing things for our family and friends also, but giving with a pure heart, not expecting anything in return. We must not forget to ‘give’ to ourselves also. A good way to do this is to make time every day for some healthy exercise. In taking care of ourselves, we are better able to give to others.
A true gift to your children would be to teach them how to give to others and set them on a life-long path to a healthy life.
It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it. – Albert Einstein