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Practical benefits of giving

Giving isn’t just for fun, it can be life-saving.

Giving to others is the bedrock of step 12; the part of all 12-step recovery programs that says you gotta give to others as a strategy to save yourself. It’s a practical matter.

How many movies have we seen where — at death’s door — someone’s will to live comes from their need to give something to someone else?

Stuck in a rut? Find a person or project to give to. At the very least it will be a distraction and might get you out of your own way.

The research is clear. Giving money to another person is more likely to lift your spirits than spending money on yourself. See Money spent on others can buy happiness in the Harvard Gazette.

This New York Times article — Spend More on Society and Get More for Yourself — explains that American individualism has made individuals unhappy and, too frequently, sick. Another social research study finds that when people give to charities it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. See the Jorge Moll and colleagues paper at the National Institutes of Health website.

3 thoughts on “Practical benefits of giving

  1. Money isn’t the only thing you can give. Blood is always needed by the Red Cross. You can literally save a life. And volunteering can not only help others and yourself, but be a great way to make friends who share your concerns. I volunteer on my campus (University of Maine) and at Orono Community Garden and Orono Public Library. This was one of the things I missed the most during the first part of the pandemic. That inspired me to create something new.
    I’ve started a program to give kids in my trailer park backpacks full of supplies for back to school. This is our second year. Can you imagine how much better the world would be if each person who could gave in one way or another?

  2. Mom taught me this “Secret to Success” when I was 4 years old, walking around Presque Isle, Maine.
    I was fascinated by how she seemed to love everyone, and she listened to them, and when they told her what they needed she was able to hear their need and believe that they could have it.
    And, when they believed what she believed, it was like magic!!!
    I forgot that secret, until 1994, at a Landmark FORUM Weekend in NYC.
    At the end of the weekend, I stood on the stage, and reported to the audience of about 150 people that I was DOOMED TO SUCCEED, because I had just discovered the Secret Mom had shown me over 40 years before. (During the weekend I had called her at her home in Maine, and thanked her for this wonderful gift. She was non-plussed, and waned to know how I was doing, and if I was happy. That was always her source of Joy)
    And, today, when I am present, and listening with Love, like Ellen showed me how to do, I am able to do it this effortlessly.
    A professor friend once told me that this magical moment is my Hokey Pokey moment. It is definitely my happy place.

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