According to study done by the University of Michigan, sharing that stick of gum with your buddy, or random acts of kindness are good for your health. The study revealed that generosity increases your life span just like exercise or a healthy diet do. The researchers tracked 2,700 people over ten years, and researchers found that men who did volunteer work had death rates far lower than men who chose not to. The act of volunteering lowered the death rate by two and half times for the men that wanted to volunteer.
The real benefit of giving doesn’t have to be something big. It might be helping a friend out of a jam, or it might be over-tipping a waitress for a job well done at a family diner. Whatever the case, the ability to lift someone’s spirits make us feel good about ourselves and that makes us feel better about ourselves. It also helps us to lessen the stress we feel when dealing with our lives.
It reminds me of the novel by Charles Dickens, The Christmas Carol, where Scrooge begins to feel better about himself and his life by helping out his employee Bob Crachit. Scrooge’s sudden epiphany creates a new found happiness and lessens his hatred of himself. I find it very interesting that a fictional book that’s over a one hundred and fifty years old can teach us so much about dealing with stress in our lives today. So the next time you are at a Starbucks maybe consider paying it forward by paying for the person behind you. Just a thought.
Dr. Shah, M.D.