I have in the past talked about charitable acts done to others without expectation of any reward. I thought the subject is important enough to devote a whole blog post to it. A great many of us do voluntary work. Without denigrating the good work they do I want to take this to a personal and individual level and examine why we should do a good service to others without any expectation of a reward or without even a thank you in return.
I was going to start by saying that a lot of us live in the wealthiest countries and that we have a surplus of goods and riches with which to perform selfless acts, but that is not it. Most of the selfless charitable acts are performed in the poorest of countries. I come from one and I have seen acts of charity done on a daily basis. The word charity has a connotation of something done to the poor and the needy. I mean here the daily tasks we perform for our friends and family and neighbours without expectation of rewards.
I mean things like giving a lift to a work colleague, walking someone’s dog when they are unable to, visiting an elderly or disabled acquaintance and shooting the breeze with them. Just as an example, I am in a position to share my cameras, or the printer or rarely used kitchen utensils or the hedge cutter or the steamer or even the car with my family. This makes economic sense. Teachers are not the only people who can teach. We can all teach our skills and knowledge to others. I learned Photoshop from a friend, another friend helped me to create this blog. Ok, once again this is something a lot of us do on a daily basis without thinking, just as the good people who do voluntary work in institutions.
So what is my point?
My point is there are immense benefits for our mental and physical health when we perform these selfless acts. There has been a lot of research into this field by scientists and psychologists and the consensus is that the person who on an individual and routine basis helps others in some way benefits through increased mental and physical health. I am talking here of a delay in the onset of Alzheimers and the prevention of heart attacks and of cancers. Research reveals that helping others reduces mortality rates considerably and has a beneficial effects on stress levels.
It is said toddlers get more pleasure giving than receiving. I don’t know about that but I do know children always want to come and give you things. The act triggers a feel good factor in their brain I guess. There is a lot of material on the subject out there. This is one area where you can start:
This is my personal opinion. Voluntary work performed in the setting of large institutions seem too much like paid work. There are risk assessments, insurance forms, work reports, performance sheets etc to be filled, uniforms to be worn, ID badges to be displayed, bosses to kow towed to, that the initial charity from the heart seems to get lost along the way. I would rather go across to my 94 year old neighbour and have a five minutes of very interesting talk with her. She has been living in the same house since before WWII and will tell me where exactly the bombs fell, and which house was demolished.
Think also of the benefits to society as a whole if we all perform such tasks for one another. The burden on the state will ease and we shall all be getting along better with each other. The biggest benefit is of course for ourselves and our health. Since this is a blog about health and well being I have to emphasise that aspect of it. It goes with my philosophy of looking at health and well being through a holistic approach. But this is only a way of pointing you in a direction. Please read up on the physical and psychological benefits of selfless acts. They are mind blowing, the things they can do to our dopamine receptors. One more reason to share a blanket with a homeless man ladies!