Love Matters When … You Give of Yourself

What’s Love Got To Do With It? During the month of February, we are going over all the reasons love actually DOES have something to do with your emotional, physical, and social health.

Young woman helping herself with blue umbrella design concept

Scientists have coined the term “the helpers high” to describe the endorphins released into the brain when one performs an altruistic act. In fact, when we give of ourselves, our physiology benefits in many important ways.

Altruistic acts of kindness are associated with lower blood pressure and cortisol, which is the major stress hormone in the body. It has also been shown to increase self-esteem and lessen depression. Even a small act of kindness helps create a happy heart (and a happy heart is a healthy heart)!

In our company, one year we gave everyone $100. I told them to find something to do with that $100 that would make a difference in someone’s life. The acts that were chosen by the employees were fantastic, and really helped out others around them in many ways. But I have to say that the difference it made for them was amazing as well.

The positive impact of giving extends to volunteering as well. Social scientists have studied volunteering activities and found that they’re associated with stronger community bonds, less social isolation, better self-esteem and an improved sense of purpose. This may be why volunteering is also associated with lowers rates of heart disease and depression, and an improved immune system.

I’m not sure anyone has studied what would happen if a person decided to give, but did so for purely selfish reasons. For example, what if a person decided that they wanted a healthier body and thought that doing good for others would get them there — the equivalent of someone wanting to be fit, and so going to the gym to plod on the treadmill even though  they didn’t like it at all.

Even without a research study, I believe you would not get the same effect at all. It is not the external act of giving that matters, but the internal expression of love and caring that is so powerful for our body, mind, and spirit.