How the Giver’s Glow Will Keep You Young, Happy & Healthy
There is a givers glow? Yup and Stephen Post has coined this popular term based on his research which focuses on volunteerism. The Giver’s Glow is a result of better physical and mental health that comes with volunteering. Many of us could do with a boost to our mental health. Adding a boost to our physical health makes volunteerism as your give a winner.
Who is Stephen G. Post PhD?
Not familiar with Stephen Post? He is the author, with journalist Jill Neimark, of the popular book, Why Good Things Happen To Good People: How to Live a Longer, Happier, Healthier Life by the Simple Acts of Giving. It is here that he coined the term ‘giver’s glow’ based on these questions:
“Do benevolent people experience higher levels of mental well-being?”
“Are they healthier, and do they live longer?”
Post asserts that no other behavioral intervention is as beneficial as volunteering. Volunteering directly boosts well-being.
His findings are the following:
- 89% report that “volunteering has improved my sense of well-being”
- 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”
In an interview Post stated ‘Volunteers say they feel more physically robust and healthier. I mean, if you could put this in a pill and sell it, you’d be a billionaire overnight. But you don’t need to because it lies within, based on certain kinds of activities.’
Research To Support The Giver’s Glow
The research conducted by Stephen Post has prompted mainstream scientists to further study kindly, charitable acts to verify and expand Post’s findings. This resulted in the 2010 Do Good Live Well Survey, released by United Healthcare and VolunteerMatch. This survey reported that 41 percent of Americans volunteered an average of 100 hours a year (about two hours per week). 68 percent of those who volunteered reported that volunteering made them feel physically healthier. Sounds familiar right?
But this is not new. The initial concept that volunteerism and giving improves our health was first formalized in a widely cited article published in 1965 by Frank Riessman. Riessman, defined the ‘‘helper therapy’’ principle on the basis of his observations of numerous self-help groups, in which helping others is deemed absolutely essential to helping oneself. Riessman observed that the act of helping another heals the helper more than the person helped. (. Riessman F. The ‘helper’ therapy principle. Soc Work. 1965; 10(2):27-32.)
How Your Daily Giving Practice Can Create A Giver’s Glow
Post does state the Giver’s Glow is a result of face to face giving. Giving to others in person engages people both psychologically and biologically. It lets us have a more extensive giving experience. If volunteering was not an option for some people, a financial donation will also engage us psychologically and produce a Giver’s Glow.
Can we assume that this face to face engagement can also be true for animals and plants? When we take a dog for a walk as our give, when we plant and nurture a butterfly garden on our patio, window sill or in our backyard as our planet give, does this interaction also give us the Giver’s Glow?
In our experience and with feedback from our members, we are going to say yes. When you give to people, the planet and animals, you will feel the Giver’s Glow. Try it out. You will see what happens to your mind and body when you give.
The Benefits of Giving Every Day
Post does support that ‘giving itself is clearly mood elevating and hence creates its own internal circuit of enhanced happiness, which in turn feeds back into more giving. This follows the well-accepted fact that activities affect mood and emotion. In other words, one way to elevate happiness is to reach out in helping behaviors and contribute to the lives of others. That happiness in turn elevates giving, which in turn elevates happiness. The two fuel each other in a circular fashion—a classic feedback loop’.
Other Giving Practices That Can Continue Your Giver’s Glow
At 365give we are big supporters of online gives which can be combined with your in person gives. This can be sending a note of gratitude to a friend, or doing a shout out to a business, person or organization on social media. Studies have not yet looked at the benefit of online gives, but with feedback from our members, we can report that online giving can engage us and will bring a similar response to a face to face give. With the changes in how we use technology, particularly during the pandemic, people are getting more accustomed to online interaction and seeing the benefits of this type of interaction. So don’t rule out online interaction for your giving.
Post does study volunteerism and financial donations. We have been supporting our members through their giving practices that combine both of these and so much more. Giving does make you feel physically and mentally better, and all you have to do is try it to see the results. What better way to test the research than to start giving every day in a variety of ways and see how you enhance your states of happiness, joy and well-being.
Not sure where to start? Start with The 365give Challenge. As a member of 365give you will have access to loads of giving ideas, an outline of the three steps to start The Challenge and continued support to continue your giving journey. It is for free, it is easy and most of all, you will feel great every day when you give. You will have the Giver’s Glow!
Rx It’s Good to be Good (G2BG) 2017 Commentary: Prescribing Volunteerism for Health, Happiness, Resilience, and Longevity, Stephen G. Post with an opening commentary by Sara S. Johnson, PhD in The Art of Health Promotion Ideas For Improving Health Outcomes, American Journal of Health Promotion 2017, Vol. 31(2) 163-172