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Ebenezer Scrooge begins The Christmas Carol with a “Bah humbug!”
He is both miserly and miserable. As the story unfolds, he eventually discovers the “giver’s glow,” as I like to call it. He is dancing on the streets in his new found generosity of heart. A glow stick is a translucent plastic tube containing substances that when combined make light through a chemical reaction. After the glass capsule in the plastic casing is broken, it glows. The brokenness is part of the process. Give and glow. Scrooge discovered this at last.
Rt. 80 out west shoots a little under Montana, where old Walter Breuning seemed to grasp this basic truth from early in life. Born in 1896, Walter, the world’s oldest man and a retired railroad clerk who lived in three centuries, died at age 114 on April 13, 2011, in Great Falls, where he had lived since 1918. Even as his health began to decline in the two years before his death, he is described as a cheerful soul. “He had that generosity of spirit in him,” said his pastor, the Rev. Terry Turner of the local 1st United Methodist Church. Rev. Turner shared a prayer with Walter just an hour before the supercentenarian died. Walter’s parents died at ages 50 and 46, and four siblings lived to be 78, 85, 91 and 100. He had a fine memory. He ate only two meals a day, and never ate supper or at night. He had a big breakfast with a lot of fruit, and lunch. He claimed he “drank water all the time.” He arose at 6:15 each morning. Walter recommended that people work as long as they can. He worked his entire career on the railroad until he officially retired but in fact he kept working until he was 99. Another life lesson was this: “The more you do for others, the better shape you’re in.” He also had lots of friends at Rainbow Senior Living. A celebrity in his old age who was interviewed widely, Walter was plain spoken and urged people to work hard and to be kind to each other. (From articles in The Great Falls Tribune.com, Great Falls, Montana. Of special interest was Richard Ecke’s “World’s Oldest Man Brightened Others’ Lives to the End,” 15 April 2011.)
“No man [or woman] can sincerely help another without helping himself.”
“To be good is to be in harmony with oneself.”
“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.”
Proverbs 11:25 reads,
“Those who refresh others are themselves refreshed.”
While most people already know this from experience, there are some fMRI studies of the brain showing that planning a donation activated the mesolimbic pathway, which is associated with increased dopamine (one of four natural happiness chemicals). Helping others directly triggered activity in the caudate nucleus and anterior cingulate, portions of the brain that turn on when people experience happiness. No wonder, then, that old St. Nick (a.k.a. “Santa Claus”) is always laughing and cheerful as he gives out his gifts. And no wonder that most of us actually do take a little more joy in giving gifts than in receiving them. In the end, the brain science is not terribly surprising, although it does confirm the obvious.
Is it really more blessed to give than to receive?
Do benevolent people experience higher levels of mental well-being? Are they healthier, and do they live longer? Increasingly, mainstream scientists are studying kindly, charitable interest in others, and the behaviours that go along with it, to find out whether there are associated health benefits. More significant relevant than brain science is the 2010 Do Good Live Well Survey, released by United Healthcare and VolunteerMatch surveyed 4,500 American adults. 41 percent of Americans volunteered an average of 100 hours a year. 68 percent of those who volunteered reported that volunteering made them feel physically healthier. In addition,
- · 89% report that “volunteering has improved my sense of well-bring”
- · 73% agree that “volunteering lowered my stress levels”
- · 92% agree that volunteering enriched their sense of purpose in life
- · 72% characterize themselves as “optimistic” compared to 60% of non-volunteers
- · 42% of volunteers report a “very good” sense of meaning in their lives, compared with 28% of non-volunteers
- · 96% said volunteering made them “feel happier”
If any compound could be invented to even come close to these results that manufacture would make trillions of dollars, because in truth of fact there are no existing mood drugs that make anything like this much of an impact.
About the Author:
Stephen G. Post, Ph.D. is the best-selling author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping and Why Good Things Happen to Good People, as listed by the Wall Street Journal. He speaks widely on themes of benevolent love and compassionate care at the interface of science, health, spirituality, and philanthropy. His work has been featured in periodicals such as Parade Magazine and O: The Oprah Magazine, and on such media venues as The Daily Show, John Stossel, 20/20 and Nightline. He has addressed the U.S. Congress on volunteerism and public health.
The Globe & Mail newspaper has been running a series on giving over the last few weeks. It’s an excellent series worth reading. One of the interesting catch phrases they have used is ”The New Philanthropy.” After giving back everyday for 365 days I can tell you that be a philanthropist is no longer just the rich giving large sums of money to the charity of their choice. It is every day people giving in small ways when they can with their time, crowdfunding a personal favourite cause or “texting” donation for disaster relief. We have learned that even $10 can make a multi million dollar difference if we all give together.
Wikipedia defines philanthropy perfectly in today’s society:
“Philanthropy etymologically means “the love of humanity“—love in the sense of caring for, nourishing, developing, or enhancing; humanity in the sense of “what it is to be human,” or “human potential.” In modern practical terms, it is “private initiatives for public good, focusing on quality of life“
I’m not an expert on giving / philanthropy by any means. I don’t have millions of dollars to give through a foundation nor do I have hours to volunteer or travel to remote parts of the world to save lives. But what I do have is a little time everyday to “love humanity,” Whether it is a person, an animal or the planet we can all be philanthropist. Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada posed a question this week on Facebook that you should answer.
“If you had 1 hour to help change the world what would you do?”
I want to help you discover the “new philanthropist” in yourself. I discovered so many ways to give that I never even consider or new existed during my 365 days of giving. Many of them do not even cost a dime. All you have to do is like, tweet or click and you can show your “love for humanity”. Social media has given us all the opportunity to be a philanthropist. Find your favourite medium whether is be Twitter, Facebook or just using the internet. We can all give a minute of our time to change the world.
The 365give Top 5 Ways to Give for Free
Click it for Good: This site is the creation of Jan van Voorst (Founder Planetsave.com news/ co-founder of Planetsave.) The site is grass-roots and user friendly. It allows you to help causes that support the planet without emptying your pocket but instead by spreading the word. All you have to do is click a button and share a post with your friends and you have made a donation. Sponsors make the donation for you! (Day 317)
JustCoz: This platform that enables charities, non-profits and NGOs to greatly increase their social media reach by way of tweet and status donations. Building on what is known as the “donation by action” paradigm, the bring forward the utilization of social power into the realm of passion. JustCoz enables people to make a difference by exposing their audience to messages which reflect their owns set of values and truths, and everything is done automatically, without the need to repeatedly engage in sorting through messages for those worth repeating. (Day 283)
Care2: This will allow you to become a 365 day giver. Care2 has a “daily action” that with just a click you can change the world. They refer to it as the “fast, easy and free way to make a difference everyday. (Day 289)
Freerice: A great way to teach your kids about philanthropy and they will learn along the way. It’s a bit like online trivial pursuit game that feeds the hungry around the world. For each answer you get right Freerice donates 10 grains of rice to the World Food Programme to help end hunger. (Day 31)
The Hunger Site: Whether you have a passion for helping feed the hungry, breast cancer, Rainforests, animals, child health, literacy, veterans, or autism you can give right from this site. You don’t need to be on Facebook or Twitter you can just click to give. Choose you passion and click every day. (Day 321)
Now we have no excuse not to give. Free and fast. Forget an hour our of your day in just 30 seconds you can give.
Do you have a favourite site you like to give by clicking? Which one of these is your favourite? Your feedback and comments are valuable to 365give. The more we can inspire others to give and share opinions and views on giving the more we can change the world one give at a time.
We all have times in our life when we go looking for happiness.
We want that magic pill that will suddenly make the world light up in front of our eyes.
Some think its money that will bring happiness: The ability to buy happiness in the form of a new pair of shoes, a new house or maybe a long vacation would be the key. .
Some think it’s the “perfect” romantic love in your life: That feeling of a first kiss, a first date, the flutter of your heart as it falls head over heels “in love.”
Some even think fame is the magic pill to happiness: Being recognized by millions, your name shouted from a red carpet or fans clamoring to get a picture.
We look so far out of ourselves for happiness. We look to others, we look to possessions, we look for that secret remedy to feel happier about who we are on the outside in hopes it will make us happy on the inside.
What if I told you I found the remedy? The secret to happiness!
The one thing in the world that no matter when you do it, how often you do it or who you do it for will make you feel happy. I will tell you this, it’s addictive and it’s a feeling you will want every day once you start. It doesn’t matter what your race, religion or sex.
We can all have happiness every day in our lives.
I recently took stock on the happiness level in my life. How could I possibly be more happy than the day my 2nd adopted son came home just a few weeks ago. Talk about happiness! The happiness my husband gives me every day or the glorious place I live in the world. (Vancouver, BC).
But there is one thing that became my focus every day for 365 days. It is the magic – it is the happiness remedy. I am truly happy from the inside out when I am giving.
It could be volunteering, using my fundraising expertise to help not-for-profit organizations, working with the homeless on the street, even picking up garbage at my local beach.
My magic pill is simple. It’s called the GIVE pill – a natural remedy that doesn’t have to cost you money.
It is being of service to others, knowing you did something in your day to help another living creature, whether it’s a human being, an animal, or our planet. The greatest thing about giving is it makes you feel good on the inside. It doesn’t matter what you look like, how much your income may or may not be, how big your house is or what brand of shoes you are wearing.
Giving will make you feel happy – every day.
So if you are looking for that “thing” that will make you jump out of bed in the morning with a spring in your step – find a way to GIVE. It will bring you the happiness you have been looking for – after 365 days of giving I can guarantee it works.
What is your favourite way to give? Share your happiness pill with us.
Need some inspiration. Check out any of the last 365 days of giving. Let us know which is your favourite.
Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give. - Eleanor Roosevelt