Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Helping Others Helps You

Have you stopped to consider why this particular time of year people are generally more thoughtful, helpful, and even happy? We have been observing people around us recently, and there is something that happens when this special time of year arrives. People start to think about others more than themselves. They purposefully find ways to reach out, serve, and help those around them.

We found an interesting article written by Mike Gonyea entitled, "Importance of Helping Others" that dives into what happens to ourselves, both emotionally and physically when we reach out to help others.

Importance of Helping Others
by Mike Gonyea

Emotional Well-Being
Research led by Dr Suzanne Richards at the University of Exeter Medical School indicates that altruistic behaviors -- those born of an unselfish concern for the welfare of others -- can have a profound effect on a person's emotional well-being. The study shows that helping others improves social interaction, distracts people from their own problems, and improves self-esteem and competence. It even suggests concern for others can allow one to build a "kindness bank" of memories that can be drawn upon well into the future.

Physical Well-Being
While many studies on the positive aspects of altruism deal with emotional well-being, research has also shown that helping others has physical benefits as well. It leads to increased social integration which allows people to lead more active lifestyles. It reduces stress and its associated negative impacts on the body, and it can boost a person's immune system which helps ward off disease. Studies of older people have shown that those who help others live longer, and presumably happier, lives than those who don’t.

Your Brain on Helpfulness
Helping others affects brain chemistry. Scientists have documented the physiological changes that occur in the brain when someone sees the response to their altruistic behavior. A group of economists at the University of Zurich said they have found the sweet spot in the brain associated with altruistic behavior. It appears that variations in the size and activity of a brain region known as the right temporoparietal junction dictates your ability to appreciate the perspectives of others, and it creates the possibility that stimulating it could allow almost anyone to enjoy the many benefits associated with altruistic behavior.

Our challenge to you is to reach out and help someone today. Give your brain the positive benefits it needs, and you might be surprised how a little service actually lifts the heavy burdens we are sometimes called to bear.

Dr. Dennis Clark & Staff

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