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Volunteers prove generosity is naturally healthy

Volunteers prove generosity is naturally healthy
Volunteers prove generosity is naturally healthy

My four year-old grandson looked with awe at the chocolate iced donut. Was it all just for him? His immediate response was to break it in two pieces - half for his much-adored older sister, and half for himself.

Did you know that people are innately generous? ( A study published in the journal Nature finds that when people have to make the choice instantly, their first impulse is cooperation and generosity. Only when they have more time to consider their choice do they behave more selfishly. The study concludes that generosity is the intuitive human response.

Generosity and sharing give us such a buzz, whether it's helping out at our child's school, offering a lift or the use of our trailer to a neighbour, or raising money for a worthwhile charity. Psychologist, Liz Dunn believes she's found a possible link between generosity and physical health. Apparently holding on tight to our money, whether justified or not by financial hardship, causes stress and our cortisol levels rise in direct relation to our penny-pinching.

Supporting these findings, the Live Well Survey found that 68% of those who volunteered in the past year reported volunteering made them feel physically healthier; and around 90% reported an enriched sense of well-being and purpose in life.

Qualities we need to utilise when volunteering in the community, like gratitude, celebration, persistence, forgiveness and compassion, are not only good for the people we help - they're good for us too, leading to better health and longer life.

But what can you do when you feel like you've lost that sweet, natural confidence and generosity you once had as a child? How do you pick yourself up, when you feel like you've been trampled underfoot?

When a young adult and battling a bout of depression and illness, it was a desire to help others that eventually moved me away from an anguished sense of hopelessness about the world and my place in it

One of the few places where I felt loved and valued was church. So, I decided to volunteer more time there, as well as establishing a daily prayerful practice for the community. I was offered opportunities and encouragement to participate in ever-widening responsibilities.

Later, the new-found confidence and experience opened up other opportunities. I volunteered as secretary on my children's P&C Association and enrolled as a mature-age, first-time tertiary student in an undergraduate degree at university.

Many people have found that a generous spirit that reaches out to others through volunteering brings opportunities that help to defeat the negative self-talk that tends to hold us back, physically and mentally.

Volunteering, we express a spirit that's something like the divine Spirit - joyful, caring, capable and positive. It keeps us healthy.

"Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full…" (Luke 6). It's a given.

This week, we're celebrating all the wonderful volunteers in this community during National Volunteer Week. And the theme is Give Happy, Live Happy.

Kay Stroud
My own spiritual practice of Christian Science has helped me so much. Join me as I explore how the elements involved are being recognised and implemented in society

Topics:  confidence depression generosity giving illness mental health national volunteer week volunteers

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