Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Jul 30th
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

 

Health Screening

Santa Cruz wellness expert releases app to improve workplace well-being

 

Leo Sun; Full Moon, Venus Retro in Leo; Saturn Direct

It’s a complex week of planetary movements, challenges, demands and callings. We’re in the time of the Leo Sun. Leo—fixed fire, gold, the heart, generous, strong, noble, the king/queen—needs appreciation and praise from everyone in order to move forward. During Leo we gain a greater sense of self-identification by recognizing our creativity. It’s therefore a perfect time for Venus retrograding in Leo. In Venus retrograde we review and re-assess values. Venus retro in Leo concerns our self as valuable, acknowledging talents, gifts, abilities and offerings. Friday, Venus re-enters Leo (29 degrees, a critical degree) continuing the retrograde to 14 degrees Leo on Sept. 6. Friday (Full Moon) is also the (8 degrees) Leo solar festival, Festival of the Future. Leo is the heart of the sun, the heart of all that matters. When attuned to this heart, we have understanding and inclusivity. The heart of the Lion is Mitra (think “Maitreya,” the coming World Teacher). Leo prepares humanity to receive divine love from subtle sources and later to radiate that love to the kingdoms. Sirius, Ray 2, where love originates, streams through Regulus (heart of Leo), into the heart of the sun (Ray 2) and into all hearts. The heart of Leo is Regulus. Joining Venus, the love underlying all of creation appears. Saturday is Sun/Neptune (confusion or devotion) with late night Saturn turning stationary direct. Ideas, plans and structures held long in abeyance (since March 14) slowly move forward. (Read more on Leo and the week at nightlightnews.org and Risa D’Angeles’ Facebook page, accessed through my website.)

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Jailbreak with Reality

‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’ revisits one of the most notorious studies of all time
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Holy Cannoli

New bakery opens in Ben Lomond, plus Randall Grahm’s quest to grow 10,000 new grape varieties, and Mexican cooking classes

 

Is Santa Cruz turning into Malibu North?

It's got a ways to go before it gets wrecked like Malibu, but I think we need to be very careful about growth. Maria Mattioli, Santa Cruz, Psychotherapist

 

Bargetto Winery

A much-anticipated annual event at Bargetto Winery is the release of their very special La Vita red wine. June 7 was the day to be heralded this year, and I happily squeezed my car into their overloaded car park in eager anticipation of tasting the new La Vita nectar.

 

Margaritaville

Popular Capitola spot gets new owner and complete makeover