“You have got to be out of your mind” was a sentence Isabella was getting used to hearing. Friend after friend rolled her eyes as she told them of her plans. Isabella was 80 years old, for God’s sake, and no amount of eye rolling was going to dissuade her. Even if her friends were moving into assisted living facilities, she was building a new home in Montecito and giving it to her favorite charity. No strings attached.
Although her friends told her that the move and overseeing the construction would be the death of her, Isabella out lived the friends that poo pooed her philanthropic adventure. She lived a happy, healthy life in her Monetico home for 10 years. Her vision, spirit and wish to remain an anonymous live on since her home is now used as a retreat center.
Volunteering is good for you. Science is beginning to discover that are concrete physical, and emotional benefits to giving to others. Perhaps, you have a vague notion that volunteering is “good for the soul” but have little, if any, concrete evidence that philanthropy could be good for your health. In More Give to Live, Douglas Lawson cites research that shows how helping others leads to enhanced health and emotional well-being. Numerous studies report that those involved in ongoing volunteer programs have an enhanced immune system, improved cardiovascular circulation as well as better sleep patterns. Emotionally those involved in philanthropic work sense of control over one’s life and circumstances, increased ability to cope with crisis as well as stronger feelings of personal satisfaction, compassion and empathy.
The Helper’s High.
You may have just had a brush with ‘Helper’s High’ yourself.
How do you feel when you finish a long run or a tough workout? Until the pain sinks in you probably feel fantastic. Strenuous exercise releases endorphins. That release creates an elated feeling known as the runners high. Have you ever left a day of working with your favorite good cause with more energy than you began with? That could be due to a similar endorphin response.
A charity in New York City recently conducted a survey of 3,300 volunteers. Many experienced feelings of euphoria while being involved in their service project. The volunteers compared the experience to the runner's high - when a person runs and exerts, but instead of feeling more stressed, one feels more relaxed and joyous.
Giving makes you feel better. It may be a key factor in living longer as well. Dr. Stephanie Brown and her colleagues at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan conducted an important study recently. Dr. Brown discovered and her team tracked 423 older couples over a 5 year period. The people who reported giving no support to others were more than twice as likely to die during the five years of the study as those who helped others. The simple act of giving to neighbors, a spouse, relative or friends gave people a 50% better chance of living longer. Her study gives clear evidence that giving is good for your health.