Studies PROVE That Giving Is Better Than Receiving
There’s no doubt that the holidays have become highly commercialized. In an effort to sell their products, stores put up Christmas trees at the same time they are discounting the unsold Halloween candy. And yet, we’ve all heard the saying that it is better to give than to receive. Would you believe that the wisdom of old has been proven? It’s true. Studies now prove that it’s better to give than to receive!
Stephen Post, professor of preventative medicine and director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at Stony Brook University in New York and author of Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live A Longer, Healthier, Happier Life by the Simple Act of Giving, highlights some insights on the benefits of giving.
One of the studies evaluates preteens whose participation began in the 1920s in California. Those who engaged in generous behavior and attitude would later have lower rates of heart disease and depression, according to Stephen Post. In this case, either giving or the lifestyle and attitude it takes to give lead to a healthier body.
Another study conducted at Harvard revealed a connection between thinking about giving and a stronger immune system. Students who watched a film on the life and work of Mother Theresa, according to MRI tests conducted thereafter, had more “feel-good chemicals” released in their brains. So, in this case, even thinking about giving and helping others was better than receiving!
Post, who’s also the president of The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, said hormone levels tied to serenity, trust and compassion rise when people exhibit generous behaviors. Those same feelings, he
One of Post’s current studies is even more insightful. This one has shown that people who complete the process assigned with Alcoholics Anonymous and then help others with the same process have a rate of recover that is almost double that of those who don’t. Those who help others have a forty percent recovery rate, as compared with a twenty-two percent recovery rate for those who do not volunteer to help other alcoholics.
One person who can attest to the power of giving is Cami Walker, a 36-year-old woman who received a prescription to give when her multiple sclerosis, a diagnosis she got at age 33, left her a physical and emotional wreck.
Cami’s friend and spiritual adviser, Mbali Creazzo, challenged her to think stop thinking about her disease and to think about others instead.
She said, “‘Cami, you really need to stop thinking about yourself. … You’re feeding this disease,’” Walker remembers. “She said, ‘I have a prescription for you. Give away 29 gifts in 29 days.’ “
Cami originally didn’t pay any attention to her friend’s “prescription.” She eventually came to the realization that it was worth a try. Sometimes she would simply purchase food or drink for a homeless person; other times, she was a listening ear for someone who needed emotional support. For Cami, it made a difference.
She said her mood lifted, her ability to get around improved and the progression of the disease stopped.
As we enter into a new year, perhaps we can bring with us the cheer and health that comes from the spirit of giving that is not and should not be reserved for one month of the year.