Free Press Article – Friday, August 10, 2012
Dr. Paula King
I’m sure you have experienced the high that comes from giving; the “natural gladness” that occurs when you give of yourself without any expectation of getting something in return. In fact, in many circles it is believed that giving is the road to understanding true abundance.
Such an idea flies in the face of another closely held idea that suggests that if you work hard enough, get good grades, find the right partner, the right job, and the right place to live, you will be happy. I believe both hold some truth, in that it is easier to be happy with a relationship filled with love, a meaningful job, and a home in a place that fits well with your lifestyle choices. But, giving unselfishly is far easier to obtain, more fully in our personal control, and leads to significant positive physical and emotional changes in your body and in your life.
Recently, I was introduced to the story of Cami Walker, a writer who chronicled her experience with the power of giving in her bestseller, “29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life.” Walker describes being in her early 30s when she was stricken with multiple sclerosis (MS). She lost the use of her hands, the vision in one eye, and was debilitated by fatigue, numbness and depression. Feeling suicidal, she called her friend and spiritual advisor, Mbali Creazzo, a South African medicine woman, who prescribed a ritual. Creazzo told her to give away 29 gifts in 29 days, and said, “It doesn’t have to be material. It can be that you say something nice.”
So Walker began and her life and health dramatically changed and as a result she wrote her bestseller and launched an online challenge site, 29Gifts.org, intended “to inspire a worldwide revival of the giving spirit.” And it has, being visited by thousands of people across the globe that tell their stories of the power of giving unselfishly.
Many have discovered the power of unselfish giving. Einstein is quoted as saying: “The value of a man is in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.”
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give,” said Winston Churchill.
And Buddha instructed his followers: “If you knew the power of generosity you would not let a single meal go by without sharing it.”
And for those who need proof of power of giving, scientific researchers at the National Institutes of Health have found the biological basis for the good feelings. They found that the mere thought of giving money to a favored charity stimulates the reward center in the brain called the mesolimbic pathway, a primitive part of the brain, which is responsible for dopamine-mediated euphoria. And, according to Stephen Post, author of “The Hidden Gifts of Helping,”: “Your good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin are actually evoked by self-giving love.”
Giving with no thought of getting maybe a natural anti-depressant and healing solution. Many, including myself, think so. Try it, you might like it.
Dr. Paula King is a licensed psychologist, who also holds certifications as a health coach, a HeartMath® biofeedback practitioner, an interactive imagery guide, and a sport psychologist. She can be reached at Healing Horizons, 970-256-8449.