How Giving Improves Your Health

1) Contemplating generosity boosts your immunity

According to studies involving Harvard students, antibody levels in their saliva surged and remained at high levels for an hour after being asked to focus on occasions when they had behaved in a loving manner or when others had shown them love. In another study, the brain’s pleasure centres were shown to light up when subjects were asked to list organisations that they wished to donate to.

2) Don’t just hear people, listen to them

Focusing your attention on people you socialise with, instead of yourself is said to reduce risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that cardiac arrest is highly correlated with the amount of self-reference (“I,” “me,” “my”) in conversational speech. Listen to other’s wholeheartedly to help your heart.

3) Reach out to sufferers to lower your suffering

Scientists attribute the release of endorphins to the phenomenon of chronic pain reducing in subjects that reach out to others in similar pain. Research suggests that those suffering saw a decrease in intensity of pain and depression and in one study, pain decreased by 13 percent.

4) Giving massages lowers anxiety and depression

Studies that involved retirees giving massages showed that anxiety and depression levels dropped remarkably. The adrenal gland also saw a decrease in the production of the stress hormone, cortisol.

The stranger that gave me the most special gift on my Birthday

On my recent travels to Hawaii, I was strongly impacted by the generosity and love from the native Hawaiian people. Peace and understanding is deeply ingrained in their culture, which I found to strongly contrast the competitive and materialistic culture of the Western world.

I crossed paths with a beautiful soul on my birthday on May 4th this year and it was certainly the icing on the cake when it came to my eventful day.

A young, blonde girl by the name of Jade approached me on a red sand beach and offered me a piece of native Hawaiian fruit and I accepted gratefully. She proceeded to tug me over to a nearby tree to gather another native fruit and then showed me how to crack it open by applying pressure from a couple of rocks. I thought it was beautiful that she was familiar with the local fruits and knew how to live off the land.

Jade was keen to spend time in the ocean, despite the fact that she didn’t know how to swim. I admired her fearlessness of the water. I could sense that she felt safe, so long as I was gripping her hand. I offered her my goggles and learned that she had never seen anything like them before. I facilitated the first time she experienced a peak underwater.

“I can see your feet!” she exclaimed, grinning. I told her that it was my birthday and that she had made my day.

We ventured over to where she was sitting with her mum and some locals to say goodbye before we left the beach. When they learned of my birthday, a man by the name of Riko took off a necklace that he had around his neck and handed it to me as a gift. I was holding a hand crafted necklace made by a stranger!

He told me that he had lived in the area for 17 years and that the beads of the necklace came from that beach and cannot be found anywhere else on the island. He said he had handpicked them and said the necklace was made with love and finished only two days prior. The necklace consists of a Kukui bead, a bead of light. Kukui were the first prayer beads for indigenous Hawaiians and are still used today. Over time it will become infused with my spiritual energy and worn for protection.

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He expressed his appreciation for taking the time to play with Jade and also thanked us for being there and visiting the beach. I feel the power of the necklace when I wear it and am forever grateful for the love and generosity shown by the locals on this island.

Some of the most special and most meaningful gifts I have been given have been from strangers. Why? Because they have no ulterior motives. They give from the heart and do not feel an obligation to give.

They say nobody has become poor by giving. 

Kahlil Gibran is a famous Lebanese artist, poet and wirier. A few lines from his poetry collection Il Profeta, ‘Giving’ have been translated into English and resonated with me:

There are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek job, nor give with mindfulness of virtue.

There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.

It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding.

About the author

Kim Logan