It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little – do what you can.
— George Washington Carver
Enjoy a week of creative thinking and embrace all of the ways you can help others. From a prayer, kind gesture, volunteering or a donation, it all counts and always impacts a life.
by Neissa Springmann
What an extraordinary summer and week the state of Texas and Central Texas has experienced?! With wildfires blazing all around and thousands of our neighbors left without homes, it has been a surreal week leaving each of us asking, “How can I help?” Additionally, with today marking the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I have spent a large portion of the morning watching the memorials in New York City, Washington DC and Pennsylvania. The memories take me back to the day it all happened, when we all wondered “How can I help?”
I believe we are all created with an innate desire to help others, but if you’re like me I have a tendency to complicate the act of helping. For example, one of my lofty dreams is to go on a mission trip to Africa. I’ve talked to my husband Russell about this many times and “Mr. Practical” always says the same thing, “I think that’s a great dream, but why do you have to go to Africa when there are people in Austin that need your help now??” Ugh! Of course he’s right, but I love THINKING BIG, and because I love thinking big I want to help big too… And, because I’m a big thinker and want to help big, I get fixated on the BIG and unfortunately end up doing nothing.
This type of thinking reminds me of setting goals and dreams. Oftentimes when setting big goals and dreams, my brain gets overwhelmed by the enormity. Instead of taking bite size and practical steps that will allow me to get closer to them becoming a reality, I get paralyzed and end up taking no action at all. Watch the video below if you need a little inspiration or reminder of why we should never let go of our innate desire to help others.
As for helping others, just imagine the outcome if every person in the United Stated donated $1.00 to the Bastrop fire victims? If this were the case, the total would be over THREE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS! I don’t know what the estimated damage in Bastrop is but I have a feeling that would help! I can only speak for myself, but I can find $1.00 of change in my purse, so why is it that when I think of donating $1.00, I often times pass up the opportunity? It is simply because I think it’s not enough. However, the truth is when my $1.00 is combined with other contributions, the total number quickly adds up.
Helping others certainly doesn’t have to come in monetary forms only. A prayer, kind gesture, volunteering once a year, donating 50 cents, clothes and non-perishables all add up and make a difference in a life. Furthermore and selfishly, when I help someone, my spirit is iGnited! Naturally, I am always humbled, however my level of gratitude for life exponentially increases and I feel enthusiastic about helping more!!
Finally, regardless of the way you can help, this week I encourage you to consider the “H” in Enthusiastic Living. Not only will you help someone, you’ll also be helping yourself! Below is a fascinating article from giftsofkindness.com which explains the multiple benefits of helping others, along with what happens when you add just one degree (action) to your life or to someone else’s. It’s all GOOD stuff!
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.
— Sydney Smith
Being kind has a profound impact in the lives of others, but you may not know how much of a positive health benefit it delivers to you as well. People who perform acts of kindness would agree that being kind to someone else makes them “feel good.” Scientific research shows that it not only can make you feel good but being kind has a significant health benefit, both physically and mentally.
Allan Luks, the former executive director of the Institute for the Advancement of Health and executive director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of New York City studied kindness and documents his findings in his book, The Healing Power of Doing Good: The Health and Spiritual Benefits of Helping Others.
Luks’ study involved more than 3,000 volunteers of all ages at more than 20 organizations throughout the country. He sent a 17-question survey to these volunteers, asking them how they felt when they did a kind act. A total of 3,296 surveys were returned to Luks, and after a computerized analysis, he saw a clear cause-and-effect relationship between helping and good health. Luks’ concluded, “Helping contributes to the maintenance of good health, and it can diminish the effect of diseases and disorders both serious and minor, psychological and physical.”
Below are a few of Luk’s significant findings as a result of his research. We hope this research not only excites you but also encourages you to share the gift of kindness daily!
- Helping others contributes to the maintenance of good health, and it can diminish the effect of diseases and disorders serious and minor, psychological and physical.
- A rush of euphoria, followed by a longer period of calm, after performing a kind act is often referred to as a “helper’s high,” involving physical sensations and the release of the body’s natural painkillers, the endorphins. This initial rush is then followed by a longer-lasting period of improved emotional well- being.
- Stress-related health problems improve after performing kind acts. Helping reverses feelings of depression, supplies social contact, and decreases feelings of hostility and isolation that can cause stress, overeating, ulcers, etc. A drop in stress may, for some people, decrease the constriction within the lungs that leads to asthma attacks.
- Helping can enhance our feelings of joyfulness, emotional resilience, and vigor, and can reduce the unhealthy sense of isolation.
- A decrease in both the intensity and the awareness of physical pain can occur.
- The incidence of attitudes, such as chronic hostility, that negatively arouse and damage the body is reduced.
- The health benefits and sense of well-being return for hours or even days whenever the helping act is remembered.
- An increased sense of self-worth, greater happiness, and optimism, as well as a decrease in feelings of helplessness and depression, is achieved.
- Once we establish an “affiliative connection” with someone – a relationship of friendship, love, or some sort of positive bonding – we feel emotions that can strengthen the immune system.
- The practice of caring for strangers translates to immense immune and healing benefits.
- Regular club attendance, volunteering, entertaining, or faith group attendance is the happiness equivalent of getting a college degree or more than doubling your income.
Try setting an intention this week for yourself and finding the way you want to make a different that suits you most, in this week’s Weekly Intention Guide.
JOIN THE DISCUSSION- Do you have a story of a stranger helping you?