How serving others strengthens you mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
THE RIPPLE EFFECT
Have you ever noticed that when you do something kind for someone else, it seems to have a positive impact not only on their life but also on your own? That’s because there is a powerful ripple effect at play – one act of kindness can create waves of positivity throughout our entire being. Here are a few thoughts on the Ripple Effect!
The concept of the ripple effect has been used to describe how one small action can have a larger, cascading impact. In simple terms, it means that any change or action we take can cause a series of effects that spread beyond the initial point of impact. This phenomenon is not limited to physics or economics, but it also applies to our everyday lives and behaviors.
In recent years, researchers have delved deeper into the idea of ripple effects in relation to interpersonal relationships and well-being.
Multiple studies have shown that our actions towards others can create positive effects not only for them but also for ourselves. This is known as the “ripple effect on personal health.”
Now you may be wondering, how exactly does helping others improve my overall health? As mentioned earlier, the ripple effect refers to how one small action can set off a chain reaction leading to larger consequences. It originated from a visual representation of dropping a pebble into water and observing how it creates ripples that spread outwards.
In psychology, this concept is referred to as social contagion – where emotional states and behaviors can be unconsciously transferred from person to person within social networks. For example, witnessing an act of kindness can trigger empathetic emotions in us, resulting in us performing kind acts towards others. My friend, and co- host of the Positive Talk Podcast would say that is reflected through mirror neutrons.
The act of helping others has long been associated with feelings of fulfillment and satisfaction. What many people may not realize, however, is that there are also profound mental health benefits that come with lending a helping hand to those in need.
In the nonsensical world we live in, and the amount of energy we expend to live a more peace-filled life, this seems to be a no brainer. Here are a few benefits that serving others offer you.
1. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
One of the main mental health benefits of helping others is its ability to reduce stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that engaging in acts of kindness activates the areas of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, leading to a release of feel-good hormones like dopamine and oxytocin. These hormones counteract the effects of stress hormones like cortisol, thereby reducing levels of stress and promoting relaxation. One study conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia found that performing acts of kindness for others led to a significant decrease in participants’ stress levels. The act did not even have to be grand gestures; simple acts like holding open a door or offering words of encouragement were enough to produce measurable changes in stress levels.
2. Boosts Mood and Happiness
Helping others also has a significant impact on one’s overall mood and happiness levels. When we help someone else, we experience an increase in positive emotions such as joy, contentment, and gratitude. Additionally, research has found that performing acts of kindness can lead to a boost in serotonin levels – also known as the “happy hormone.” Who doesn’t want to be happier?
3. Increases Self-Esteem
Helping others can have a powerful effect on our self-perception and self-esteem. By making a positive impact on someone else’s life or contributing to something larger than ourselves, we gain a sense of purpose and accomplishment. This feeling can be especially beneficial for individuals struggling with low self-esteem or feelings of worthlessness. Several studies indicate that 85% of Americans suffer from low self-esteem. That seems like an impossible statistic, but based on my counseling appointments over the past few years, I’d say it is spot on.
4. Provides a Sense of Connection
Many people underestimate the importance of human connection in maintaining good mental health. By helping others, we are creating meaningful connections and building relationships with those around us. These social connections have been linked to improved mental and emotional well-being and reduced feelings of loneliness. I know this to be significant in recovery from grief, trauma, and depression. If you are struggling with an unfulfilled degree of relationships, volunteer to help others through civic groups, churches, non profits and non-governmental agencies. You’ll discover meaningful relationships with people built around doing good, together.
5. Promotes Mindfulness
In today’s fast-paced world, many of us struggle to slow down and be present in the moment. Engaging in acts of kindness requires us to be fully present and aware of our surroundings, leading to a state of mindfulness. By being mindful, we can reduce stress, improve focus and concentration, as well as increase overall feelings of happiness and satisfaction. There is a deep spiritual sense of contentment that is found within an attitude of mindful presence. There are times when simple mindfulness allows me to experience God in a deep, sabbath like manner.
Another way that helping others enhances our overall happiness is by promoting a sense of gratitude. When we engage in gracious acts towards those less fortunate than us, it reminds us to be thankful for what we have in our own lives. This perspective shift from focusing solely on ourselves to acknowledging the struggles and challenges faced by others cultivates feelings of appreciation for all the blessings in our own lives. The grateful heart is a heart after God’s best for our lives.
Another spiritual benefit is the opportunity for personal growth and self-reflection. Engaging in acts of service challenges us to step out of our comfort zones and opens up new perspectives, experiences, and ways of thinking. Serving others also encourages self-reflection as it prompts us to examine our motivations for giving back and how we can make a positive impact in the world. This introspection can lead to personal growth and a deepening of our spiritual understanding. My experience has been that the Bible, prayer and meditation come alive in my soul as my heart is moved to act with a spirit and tangibility of selfless service.
Giving back also allows us to align our actions with our values and beliefs. The teachings of Jesus emphasize the importance of serving others and making a positive contribution to both friend and enemy. Engaging in acts of service can help us live out these values and keep them at the forefront of our daily lives.
Ultimately, giving back is a powerful way to tap into our compassion, empathy, and kindness towards others. It is through giving that we are able to connect with something greater than ourselves, whether it be our community, humanity as a whole, and ultimately with Christ Himself. By spreading love and joy through acts of service, we not only enrich the lives of others but also nurture our own spirituality and well-being.
Making an effort to connect with others and find meaning in life is crucial for our overall health and well-being. It not only benefits ourselves but also has a positive impact on those around us. So, let’s make a conscious effort to nurture our relationships, give back to our communities, and appreciate the meaningful moments in life.
Along with gratitude, practicing humility is equally important for our mental health. Humility is having a modest view of oneself while acknowledging that there are other perspectives and experiences beyond our own. It means letting go of egocentric thoughts and behaviors such as seeking attention or validation from others. In its truest form, humility is the recognition that God is God, and He is in control, not us.
Strengthening spiritual beliefs can have a profound effect on our overall health and well-being. Our spiritual beliefs are an integral part of our identity, shaping our values, morals, and purpose in life. Numerous studies support the fact that living a God-centric life is key to living with a greater purpose and a more peace-filled life. Spiritual practices like prayer or meditation allow us to connect with God in a way that fuels our desire to act on our gratitude, humility, and peace through acts of service.
Furthermore, having strong spiritual, God honoring beliefs has been linked to improved physical health. Studies have shown that individuals with a strong sense of spirituality tend to have lower levels of stress hormone cortisol, better immune function, and a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and depression.
By choosing to lend a hand or perform an act of kindness, we are not only making a positive impact on someone else’s life but also reaping numerous mental health benefits for ourselves. So let’s make helping others a regular practice and witness the positive effects it has on our overall health and well-being.
I’ll share seven ways to engage with greater intentionality in tomorrow’s post.
For now, would you consider making the conscious effort to determine how you might strengthen you entire being through acts of kindness, service, generosity, and grace this Christmas season, and beyond into the new year? Join the ripple effect and see how the Divine can greatly use you to change the trajectory of someone else’s life while growing and strengthening your own soul, mind and body.
Go in Peace, Chuck