Health Through Helping Others

Health Through Helping Others

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by Don Ingwerson

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to my son as he was recapping the latest on his house-remodeling project. I’d been hearing about the ups and downs of remodeling the kitchen and bathroom – important high-traffic areas – and after months of disruption a date had finally been set for the cabinet installation. As you can imagine, after months of having kitchen materials stacked and piled on the dining room table and floor, the thought of finally having order restored brought relief.

Then one contractor flaked at the last minute and another contractor was brought in. When this new contractor called at the last minute to say he was going to be late, my son decided to ask why there was going to be a delay. It turned out that this contractor had been hired to install a closet for a client whose son had been killed in the Boston bombing and whose daughter had lost a leg. She was returning home soon and the family wanted to surprise her with a new closet. With that explanation, my son immediately assured the contractor that he could take all the time he needed, and it snapped my son out of worrying about his own schedule and into what was going to work for everybody.

What struck me about this conversation was that my son did not make this offer out of personal gain, but instead to fulfill another’s need. It’s the type of action that reduces stress, does away with a “me first” attitude, and leads to a giving, helpful, and positive environment. It’s also a personal example of what studies have found – that altruism leads to better health.

Of course this isn’t so surprising, as ancient wisdom has indicated it for millennia. One Biblical text, for instance, says, “I [God, or Spirit] will restore health unto you and I will heal you of your wounds.” Many are starting to see a connection between harmony in consciousness and in health.

Deepak Chopra, in his article “The Great Divide,” insists that the time is long past for ignoring the mind-body connection. Instead he shows how everyday decisions and modes of thought can and do affect health.

Herbert Bensen and Gregory Fricchione also support the conclusion that thought and health are linked. In Stress and Health: The New ‘Apple a Day’ Prescription, Bensen describes how individuals who practiced regular meditation had better health. “The ideal is to develop a routine, a time to bring forth the relaxation response that becomes as much a part of the day as brushing your teeth.”

I particularly appreciated the simplicity of Bensen’s suggestion as to what practicing the relaxation response does for health. He suggests that people should practice the relaxation response once a day for 10 or 20 minutes. I’ve found that a similar practice, one of early morning meditation, has helped me be mindful of those around me, which I feel has helped with my own health.

Without realizing it, my son did a lot for his health when he exhibited helpful characteristics, instead of a “me-first” attitude, which helped meet another person’s need. These small efforts to support a sense of harmony and peace when another individual is experiencing stress may seem like a trifle, but knowing that they can help maintain your health is a good clue that it’s wise to incorporate such efforts into your day.

Article first published in Blogcritics.

About the author

Don Ingwerson Don regularly blogs on health and spirituality and lives in Laguna Beach with his wife - both Christian Science practitioners. He brings his years serving the public in education to his work as a liaison of Christian Science, where he maintains contacts with the media and legislative offices.

Comments

  1. Patricia says

    My husband and I agree with your article title of Health Through Helping others. Recently in the process of a bathroom update we were trying to decide on a color and stay on schedule in step with the contractors time frame. Our choice of color and turned out to be a days drive away to purchase. The contractor called and said he had had a call from a friend in need of installation of 3 ceiling fans in her Beauty Shop so she could keep her business open during the heat wave we were experiencing. We agreed to the delay and were able to make the Paint trip for our needs while he helped his friend. Everyone was pleased with the outcome. The color choice is beautiful. Thank you for a timely article pointing out the real blessings of thoughtfulness.

  2. Diana says

    What a nice clear explanation and demonstration of Christian love. Thank you for that gentle reminder and the connection between harmony in consciousness and in health.

  3. Sue says

    Selflessness always brings blessing to all parties involved. Thank you for a great example in the article and in the comment by Patricia above. These examples are valuable illustrations of the concept of “Love is reflected in love”. Less stress and more peace of mind and thought helps everyone.

  4. Anne Hughes says

    A loved hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal, #46, says, “Lord, my times are in Thy hand.” Last Friday I was to phone my fellow church member at 8pm so we could practice for the Sunday service. At 8:20 my husband said, “Aren’t you supposed to be practicing?” I stopped the kitchen clean-up and rushed to the phone, apologizing for the delay. It turns out that she had just a moment before hung up from a call from her daughter across the country who has a summer job as a camp counselor and was in tears and feeling very ill, hardly able to talk. My friend had been comforting and praying with her daughter, and the timing of my call was perfect. We embraced her daughter in our thought as we read from the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, knowing that this was all about healing. When my friend called back, her daughter was not to be found in her bunk, and in a follow-up call the next morning, her daughter had all but forgotten her almost immediate healing the night before. Everyone was blessed by putting God first, and the timing was just right!

  5. diana says

    I love the thought that helping others improves our health! Last Father’s Day our grown kids, their spouses and kids all worked together on our farm doing clean up, weeding, cutting down dead trees, etc. Working along side them in their joyful giving, we all discovered strength we thought we did not have!

  6. Pamela says

    Helping others has always brought not only a sense of health, but also a sense of joy and peace. It is fun to help others and to bless them when we can. I have always volunteered to help family, friends and business acquaintences. It warms my heart to be able to assist others when I can. And as you mentioned Don, I find that quiet time each morning and even during the day brings a sweet sense of renewal of energy along with a happy heart.

    Thanks for sharing this with us and sorry I was not able to read it until today but I was away this weekend helping our daughter and her family move into their new place and we just got home late last night.