Women at Work: Helping has its own rewards

January 14, 2019

Since my cancer diagnosis in October, I have discovered there is a whole other line of “work” being done by people who have plenty on their plates as it is.

When I think of work, I think of going somewhere, doing something productive that brings a sense of satisfaction and boosts one’s spirits (generally speaking) and receiving a paycheck every so often.

This work I speak of involves spending time doing something for others, yet not receiving a paycheck. Since my surgery Dec. 10, we have had countless casseroles delivered, cards received in the mail, money donated, pots of soup left on our doorstep, children taken under another’s wing and offers of rides to anyone who might need them. There are truly people out there willing to give their time, effort and even money to those in need. These people have realized helping others makes them incredibly happy.

Why is that? Can you remember a time in your life when you helped someone truly in need and how happy you felt afterward?

Studies have shown helping others can boost our own sense of happiness and satisfaction. Steven Bloom, author of “7 Reasons Why Helping Others Will Make You Live a Better Life,” shares:

• One study showed helping others increased the participants’ happiness.

• In another study, people were given money to either spend on themselves or give to charity. Those who gave it to a charity felt happier.

• Happy workers are more likely to report they regularly help others.

• Some studies have shown children younger than 2 report being happier when they give treats away rather than receive them.

As displayed by family and friends, helping others builds stronger connections to friends and the community. When you have touched someone’s life in a positive way, you feel connected to them —almost bonded.

Although I don’t always wear my heart on my sleeve, I will admit I have allowed tears to run down my face when a casserole or donation is being delivered to our door by a member of our community. The people who have helped are not people I have known closely or for very long. These same people now have a special place reserved for them in my life.

Bloom also shares that one adapts better to stress and adversity by building resilience. Helping others does not add stress to one’s life, it actually helps us manage stress better. Why? By looking at the challenges in the lives of others, one can take that point of view into their own. It makes you more accepting of the stress and hardships we all have to face.

Lastly, if you want to live longer, be a giver. According to a large study, the link between better health and helping others is evident.

Many people have approached me with statements such as, “I know this doesn’t mean much …”, or “I don’t know what to say, but …”. If you think your words mean little to those in need, I can honestly attest that the kindness in your words means as much as a pot of soup, a ride or money.

My heart is full of appreciation and gratitude for the people who have taken time out of their day to do “work” for me and my family. I know when it is my turn to help take care of someone else, I certainly will be stepping up. Seeing this work being done and looking forward to doing it myself makes me realize the value that can come from helping others. I cannot say “thank you” enough.

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