Friday, January 4, 2008

The Helper's High / The Runner's High

"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." - Michaelangelo

Folks often ask if me if I feel "the runner's high" every time I lace up my shoes. While I nearly always feel satisfaction, I have to admit that not every workout is a joy-filled, transcendental experience.

It turns out that I - and you! - can increase our chances of getting high on life by adding giving to our regular routines. As Arthur Brooks writes in a recent opinion piece:

It is a fact that givers are happier people than non-givers. According to the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, a survey of 30,000 American households, people who gave money to charity in 2000 were 43% more likely than non-givers to say they were "very happy" about their lives.

It's called the helper's high!

Just as exercise has all of the health benefits we all know, giving does too:

Charity also lowers the stress hormones that cause unhappiness. In one 1998 experiment at Duke University, adults were asked to give massages to babies — the idea being that giving a baby pleasure is a compassionate act with no expectation of a reward, even a "thank you" — in return. After they performed the massages, the seniors were found to have dramatically lower levels of the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine in their brains.

The bottom line from all the research on giving is that it is not just good for your favorite cause; it's good for you, too. For relief from stress and depression, it's probably more cost-effective than whatever your doctor might prescribe. For getting a little high, it's not illegal, and a lot less fattening than booze.

So as you're implementing all of those healthy new year's resolutions or thinking about what endurance goals 2008 will hold for you, do yourself a favor and make a donation to Genesis Home!