The Benefits of Doing Good, by Kim Wiklund

Helping others is good for our health. •© GLOW IMAGES o	models are used for illustrative purposes

Helping others is good for our health.
• © GLOW IMAGES
o models are used for illustrative purposes

What are the practical results of helping others? There is no question that in performing good deeds we feel good about ourselves, but what about other benefits? Given what we each know about how it makes us feel, it’s not surprising that the health benefits of doing good deeds are increasingly being studied.

The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, headed by Stephen G. Post, PhD, has studied it not once, but fifty times!  Dr. Post is a professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and his studies center on investigating the effects of acts of kindness and compassion.   For the person on the receiving end of such acts he states: “[W]hen people receive generosity and compassion, there is a positive effect on their health and well-being.”  [For instance] “… when a compassionate physician creates a safe haven for the ill patient, the patient experiences relief from stress.”   Similarly, Dr. Post investigates what the effects are on those of us who are actually on the giving end of good deeds.  In a published paper, he discusses how altruistic acts can be an antidote to stress, stating: “We’re dealing with something that’s extremely powerful.  Ultimately, the process of cultivating a positive emotional state through pro-social behaviors – being generous – may lengthen your life.”  [1]

There is even a name for it – “Helper’s High “ – which was coined by Allan Luks and explained in his book, “The Healing Power of Doing Good.”  Luks conducted a study of over 3000 volunteers which ultimately proved that performing good deeds benefits us physically and mentally.  He found that people who volunteer to do helpful things for others are 10 times more likely to be in good health than people who don’t volunteer.

It seems to me that the idea behind helping others has a universal genesis.  Jesus said this in Luke 10:27: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  He was quoting from the Books of Moses, in what is now the Old Testament, which also comprise the Jewish Torah. And the oft-quoted “Golden Rule” (which has its roots in loving our neighbor) can be found throughout many spiritual or faith belief systems, though it may be expressed in a variety of ways.

In the 19th century, Christian healer Mary Baker Eddy, a leading citizen of New England and well-known philanthropist, described the importance of cultivating this quality of loving our neighbor this way:  “What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds.” [2]  She also wrote:  “No person can heal or reform mankind unless he is actuated by love and good will towards men.” [3] Marianne Williamson, present day author and interpreter of the popular “A Course In Miracles” says that loving our neighbor is what actually gives our life meaning.

In her popular book, Dying to Be Me: My Journey From Cancer to Near Death to True Healing, Anita Moorjani describes love as our actual spiritual being:  “In my NDE [near death experience] state, I realized that the entire universe is composed of unconditional love, and I’m an expression of this. When we know that we are love, we don’t need to work at being loving toward others.”

So, not only does helping others benefit them and improve our own health, it provides a purpose for being.  Loving others is actually our true nature and as such has the innate power to heal.  In the Jewish Talmud there is a well-known phrase, “And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:9).  What that means to me is that it is enough to simply “love one another.”  If we all do that – one person at a time – we will heal this entire planet.

Kim Wiklund, the newest member of Kate’s blog team, is a life-long spiritual seeker who began her study of Christian Science relatively recently.  As such, she looks forward to exploring more about spirituality and the important part it plays in our overall health through her blogs.  She is a classically trained guitarist and recently took up the banjo as well.

[1] Web MD, “The Science of Good Deeds” by Jeanie Lerche Davis

[1] Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

[1] Message to The First Church of Christ, Scientist, June 15, 1902

 



 

 

 


2 Comments

  1. Joanne Fernbach

    Thank you Kim. That is such a lovely, simple, yet powerful message to everyone…and at the right time of year! I’ve shared it on my FB page!