In my last article, How to Get High on Your Life, I wrote about the “Givers High.” Performing acts of kindness elevates our sense of well-being and contributes to a longer, healthier, happier life. Let’s explore how some people discover ways to integrate this high into their lives.
Acts of giving take you outside yourself, beyond the troubles, pains and challenges of your life, and can pull you out of the doldrums of isolation and loneliness. The brain is a social organ wired for empathy. When engaged in helping others, we experience their joy and suffering as though it were our own. Yet the giving also produces a positive emotional high pushing away our negative emotions. The old adage, “When you’re feeling down, go out and help someone,” really works.
The emotional high experienced with pure, no-strings-attached giving, produces a healing effect on the giver’s mind/body. Wounded healers often emerge out of their own traumas (whether a death, an addiction, a health crisis or disaster) as stronger individuals with a greater sense of meaning and purpose.
Match gifts to needs
Deciding where to give can be as simple as giving from who you are: know what you love, what you most value and are passionate about. This understanding is important for everything in life. It makes the giving opportunities much more gratifying and fulfilling – for the recipient as well. In addition, giving becomes almost effortless when you engage from a core of true caring and compassion. Volunteer, help friends and family, donate, listen, make other people smile – even when your heart is aching. That’s courage and compassion.
After losing her life sparkle, Judy, a retired social worker, now gets high by helping newly discharged ex-offenders make the transition to life outside the prison walls, creating a new chapter of their life. This work has given her a new lease on life.
Karen took her concern for the welfare of children into volunteer activities focusing on abused or neglected children. She has served on many committees and boards with Children’s Home & Aid and she’s been a Guardian ad Litem advocating for children in the court system. She volunteers at the National Runaway Switchboard, a 24-hour crisis line to keep runaway and at-risk youth safe and off the streets. She took her natural gift as a talk-radio host into creating a business, Custom Interviews, doing audio and video interviews capturing life stories (view here) and cherished memories of elders, veterans and participants at memorial and celebratory events.
I discovered a passion for gardening when I met a wonderful man with a home on a rather neglected property. I was given total freedom to transform it into something beautiful. After the relationship ended, I channeled my wounded heart into tending the gardens of friends. After the relationship ended, I channeled my wounded heart into tending the gardens of friends, reigniting my passion for life in the process.
I began by helping a friend struggling with health issues with work in her garden. We design the plot together and I do a lot of the work. Since then, I’ve acquired two more gardens to help beautify. Wounds get healed, I get my gardening fix, they are surrounded by beauty and we nurture our social togetherness.
Stephen G. Post, director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics at Stony Brook University has written an inspiring and comforting book, “The Hidden Gifts of Helping: How the Power of Giving, Compassion, and Hope Can Get Us Through Hard Times.” His personal story of the pain from job loss and being uprooted forms the foundation for the book’s story of healing.
He interweaves the latest research on the benefits of giving with a myriad of powerful tales about the gifts of helping others from a variety of perspectives. Both Post and Navy SEAL, Eric Greiten (see part one of this article) inspire us to want to go out and help someone.
Feel the natural flow
The high we get from simple acts of giving and kindness is really LIFE flowing through us. Flashing a smile to a stranger, sharing a kind word, offering a helping hand, making someone laugh or engaging in a volunteer activity are all part of that flow. This natural flow can become your calling and, if you’re fortunate, even your livelihood.
Isn’t it time to get high yourself? To find your purpose and let the gift of giving be the tipping point for greater happiness in the world?
Contact me for a complimentary telephone coaching session and let’s explore: Jacqui@HarmoniousPathways.com