THE ALTRUISM OPTION – A KEY TO WELLNESS AND A FULLER LIFE
The Advantages of Giving
It has often been said that it is better to give than to receive. Let’s explore this is more detail. How do you benefit from giving to others?
There is a cardinal rule to remember about giving – when you give expecting a reciprocal reward, you won’t get one. When you give money or time expecting a return on your investment, you defeat the goal of giving. However, you benefit greatly when your giving is motivated by joy, love, and selflessness. Getting in touch with your giving self is, in itself, the reward.
New Relationships –
Humans crave interaction with other people. We are social beings. However, we may feel isolated in our routine daily lives – going to work, coming home, never talking in a meaningful way to anyone else. If we lack stimulating interaction with others, our lives shrink. One way of breaking out of this isolation is to cultivate new friendships with others who are involved in taking care of the world – and themselves in the process. Join a group that feeds the homeless. Organize a neighborhood drive to donate to an unemployed family. Visit a few residents of a local nursing facility. You’ll soon expand your social world and involve yourself in a host of new, meaningful interactions.
Reducing Our Insecurities –
These are fearful times. Most of our information about the world comes from television, and their ratings (and profits) increase when they focus on crime, war, terrorist attacks, political strife, and economic crisis. These times are probably more violent than past times in history have been – but we are also now, through the media, exposed to violence more than ever. Thus, our fear and insecurity about the world increases and our response is to hunker down into a cocooned lifestyle. Confronting this fear by increasing our social connections through giving to others is a good way to achieve a more balanced life. Reaching out to neighbors and joining community organizations is an effective method of reducing our fears of the world.
Improving Our Health –
Volunteer work has been shown through various research studies to –
• enhance our immune systems,
• lower cholesterol levels,
• strengthen cardiovascular functioning, and
• reduce stress.
Achieving Our Full Potential –
When you work purely for self-interest you lose touch with your fuller potential – that is, your ability to share your energy, work, and talents for the good of others. You challenge yourself, and because your work has an impact on others, and they may even come to depend on what you give them, you push yourself even farther. In the process, you may discover skills and abilities you never knew you had. You may experience a leap in your self-esteem. You may even start to see the world in a different way. Instead of the negative thinking that can emerge out of living through the same routine everyday, you may begin to see the world – yourself and others – in a more positive and exciting light. Doing good can bring good things not only to the lives of other people, but to your own life as well.
Addressing Our Own Moods –
We all have negative cycles in our lives – and sometimes we end up stuck in a negative cycle for an extended period. Giving to others is one way some people use to address their own moods. When you feel unhappy, try bringing happiness into someone else’s life – and you’ll likely find that your own unhappiness dissipates, at least to some degree. If you feel anxious, try soothing someone else. If you feel depressed, try giving someone else some nurture, care, and kind attention. We are all interconnected. By giving to others, we give to ourselves at the same time. We reap what we sow.
“A rich life consists fundamentally of serving others, trying to leave the world a little better than you found it.” – Cornel West
Dr. Baya Mebarek, Psy.D., LMFT
San Diego Couples and Family Therapy serves the surrounding areas of Sorrento Valley Road as La Jolla, UTC San Diego, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos, Poway, University City and Escondido.