Happiness from helping others

Happiness from helping others

The following wonderful, happiness relevant article comes from The Coaching News:


A recruiting poster to gain volunteer mentors from within a large corporation stated that becoming a mentor was a “way to give back to others” and would provide “many benefits to the mentor.” Those of us in coaching, mentoring, and peer assistance have known for some time that we often gain as much from our work as the people we call our clients or partners. Engaging in this kind of work is often described by practitioners as fulfilling, satisfying, rewarding, and therapeutic.

But new research suggests that providing this kind of help does more than make a person feel good, it may actually also contribute to living longer and a healthier life. In a new book by Steven Post and Jill Neimark called “Why Good Things Happen to Good People,” the authors provide a summary of the new

scientific data on the life-enhancing benefits of caring, compassion and kindness. When we give ourselves, according to the authors, “Everything from life-satisfaction to self-realization to physical health is affected.” We live longer. We are unlikely to be depressed. Our general well-being is enhanced, and we are more likely to experience good fortune.

A fifty-year study showed that high school students, who were considered giving, had better physical and mental health in later life. According to Dr. Post, the president of Case Western Reserve University Institute for Research on Unlimited Love (http://www.unlimitedloveinstitute.org/), “Charity in high school leads to better physical and mental health in late adulthood. We’ve known about the impact on mental health, but the data on physical health is relatively new and could only have been produced from these long-term or longitudinal studies. Helping others aids in relaxation and stress reduction.”

Robert Emmons, a psychologist and professor at the University of California, Davis, directed a study called “The Gift of One’s Self,” the results of which revealed that organ transplant recipients who expressed gratitude following their operations had less physical problems when recovering. The study, conducted at the University of California, Davis, and funded by The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, surveyed almost 75 recipients of transplanted hearts, livers, lungs, kidneys or pancreas. “Participants who wrote that they had expressed gratitude in some way, either directly or indirectly, had less problems with physical roles – carrying groceries, walking, exercising,” according to Dr. Emmons. Many organ recipients said they felt they had received the “gift of life,” said research associate Stefanie Gray Greiner, now of the Mississippi University for Women. “People who felt gratitude felt physically better and were able to function physically at a higher level than those who didn”t express gratitude.” “This is the first study to suggest that gratitude could be important for physical recovery following transplantation,” Dr. Emmons concluded.

There’s more, but the message is pretty clear – happiness is not a solo sport; rather, happiness comes to those who do the right things, for themselves and for others.