It’s a busy time of year with summer coming to an end and the school year starting earlier than ever! Some businesses that slowed during the summer months are beginning to ramp up for the fall season and fourth quarter.
In the midst of all of this busy-ness, I thought you might appreciate being reminded of one way to reduce stress and create more calm, peace, and satisfaction. It’s not a secret, but it is a principle that has often been misunderstood.
We are familiar with the idea that it is more blessed to give than to receive, but do we know how to follow that advice so we can actually experience the blessings? Often this saying is understood to mean that we will be rewarded at some point in the future if we give up something now in order to benefit someone else. That is a limited way to understand a powerful principle!
Science is increasingly recognizing the benefits we reap from giving to others. An article from the Cleveland Clinic titled “Why giving is good for your health,” explains that giving results in our brain’s secreting serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin which make us feel good and give us a sense of pleasure and connection with others. Some results are lower blood pressure, a longer life span, and less stress.
CNN, while promoting Random Acts of Kindness day last February, shared a number of ways in which performing acts of kindness benefit our health, including lowering blood pressure and pain, increasing happiness, and creating a “helper’s high.”
We’ve all experienced the uplifting feeling that comes from opening a door for someone or sharing a smile with someone we pass. The wonderful thing is that when we give wholeheartedly, we immediately receive a benefit.
There is a flow to giving and receiving, a natural in and out of goodness – like breathing. What are some of the ways you can participate in this flow? Some of the most valuable gifts we can share are ones that cost nothing, since we are simply giving of ourselves. Here are a few possibilities:
- a cheerful greeting to strangers, co-workers, even telemarketers
- patience, especially when someone else is struggling
- compassionately allowing someone to be however they are
- stuff we are no longer using
- letting go of old grudges
- self-acceptance and self-compassion – gifts we can give ourselves
The positive feelings that naturally occur when we are giving to others promote calm and peace in our own experience of life.
Where might you increase your giving? I’d love to hear, if you have examples to share!