Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Oct 01st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Why Giving Back Helps Keep You Healthy

dany_keithMost people are satisfied with their contributions to their community, but there may be a bigger reason those that volunteer do so with such fervor. Studies indicate people that volunteer in their communities experience longer lives, better relationships with their families and a stronger sense of social connection. Veritable nutrition ingestion for the soul.

The human soul (to quote C.S. Lewis “You don’t have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body”) cannot be disputed; it’s only what happens in death that becomes discussion. Nonetheless, people require balance between body and soul in order to sustain and live happy lives. The human soul craves connections with other souls. Interacting and supporting another human is nourishment for the soul.

When you donate time at your kid’s school, the local food bank, disabled veterans or working with the elderly, you are refueling your soul, which can provide you hormonal releases of oxytocin (the helper’s high) combating the feelings of depression triggered by opposing hormones epinephrine and cortisol. When we lock away our altruism, we cannot flourish. It has been proven that volunteering in some capacity can be addicting, continuing their efforts searching for that next high. Depending on where your volunteering takes you, recipients are often shown to be more hopeful, have increased self esteem and decreased anxiety overall completing the circle.

I have seen this firsthand in my interactions with the youth of Santa Cruz County through Grind Out Hunger. What started out as a challenge to make a difference has turned into a full-blown movement. Kids in general are altruistic; we have all seen a toddler help their friends up when they fall, or comfort another friend on a playground after a scrape.

As humans age, need and natural awareness of the social circle and the souls around us diminishes for some. Maybe as we age we cannot be bothered to contribute any of our valuable time. In my travels around the county seeing all levels of schools from well off to below poverty there was one main theme that resonated … kids will help kids. No matter how much they actually donated, they felt fulfilled— part of the solution, empowered, solving the problem (in this case childhood hunger) placed in front of them.

In many ways, when you give of yourself to someone that is less fortunate, you actually are getting something in return. The human soul thrives on appreciation, adoration and the feeling of actually comforting another person even if it’s only momentary (such as giving a significant other a hug). It also can be said by interacting with the less fortunate, we somehow create a more introspective review of our own lives and abilities to accept our own challenges. Whether they be health, finance or relationship related, those that volunteer are more aware of their own issues and how to cope with them more effectively.

Visiting the schools, the message is one of altruism—paying it forward, finding something that gives you back tenfold of what you put in.

While I personally challenge childhood hunger, I tell the kids they need to find something that gives them that same passion, maybe caring for the elderly, cancer patients; developmentally disabled kids … the possibilities are endless. Moreover the message is that it doesn’t require much time, but more a mentality, a way of life if you will, ultimately making your life better. In the end, all we have is each other and it sure does feel good knowing that the people you volunteer for will have hope … and for me that is payment enough.

Comments (1)Add Comment
teacher at Santa Cruz High School
written by Sara DiCarlo-Dunn, March 30, 2010
Thank you Danny for your inspirational editorial...this article attracted young adults to write up your thoughts and suggestions for their 9th Grade Core class which focuses on health....all types of health including spiritual.
Random Acts of Kindness and volunteering....does make everyone feel good.
(One of the students lost the original article and wanted a copy..I helped her find it here. Thank goodness for archives. Again, know you have planted a seed with two, and reminded me why I love teaching young people. Sara

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

On the Waterfront

As the wharf celebrates its centennial, a personal reflection on its essential place in Santa Cruz’s history

 

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs this year during Libra, the sign of creating right relations with all aspects life and with earth’s kingdoms. We contemplate (the Libra meditation) forgiveness, which means, “to give for another.” Forgiveness is not pardon. It’s a sacrifice (fire in the heart, giving from the heart). Forgiveness is giving up for the good of the other. This is the law of evolution (the path of return).

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 26

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Melinda’s

New Capitola bakery takes gluten-free goods to the next level

 

Do you think you are addicted to technology?

Santa Cruz  |  Unemployed

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Apricot Wine for Dessert

Thomas Kruse Winery, a participant in the new Santa Clara Wine Trail, has been around for a long time—since 1971, to be exact. When our little group arrived to try some wine at the Kruses’ low-key tasting room, Thomas Kruse and his wife Karen were there to greet us. Theirs is a small operation, and they’re proud to offer quality wine at affordable prices. “Because we are small and low-tech, it’s easy to relate to the whole winemaking process,” says Karen—and the Kruses take pride in making wine “just like it has been made for centuries.”