Be a Bloody Legend – The Joy of Giving

The Art of Giving

At the start of this year, I did my usual planning for the 12 months ahead and decided to choose a few themes to shape my year rather than goals as they can be fraught with danger.

One of these themes was Giving Back. While this may seem quite broad, for me this means contributing to my community and assisting others.  It’s true that I support charities and those in need whenever I can and I love to help my friends and family but I felt I could do better.

Rewind to the days before I had children and I was a regular blood donor. It had been bugging me for a while that despite the fact I used to donate blood regularly, I had disappeared off the donation radar with a clatter.

I knew that donating blood was first on my giving list because there is never enough of it to go around.  So many people need it and we all have it, so its a win win right?

When I finally rang for an appointment, I was embarrassed to discover that 15 years had passed since my last visit. It’s true that time does fly but really?

This year I have been regularly booked in for for my vampire sessions and it always gives me that warm fuzzy feeling. Some of that may be related to the cute post blood donation snacks that I get very excited about, but still.

Giving makes us feel so good because we get what researchers call a ‘helpers high’ or a distinct physical sensation associated with helping. ‘Helper’s high’ was named as such by Alan Luks in the early 1990s, and since then been assessed biologically in brain imaging studies and been looked at in research on endorphins. One such study reported that half of the participants reported that they felt stronger and more energetic after helping others, whilst many also reported less anxiety and depression with increased feelings of self-worth. This is where endorphins make an entrance, triggering the reward centre in our brains responsible for euphoria, literally giving us the sensation of a ‘high.’

Other neuroscience studies show that acts of altruism decrease stress and contribute to enhanced mental health while boosting our happiness and performance levels. On the subject of happiness, there is no research needed to prove that helping others and receiving help makes us happy.

Next week in Australia, 11-17 June, it is National Blood Donor Week.

Being charitable and helping others does not have to be a financial donation or a huge undertaking. Lets face it; in tough financial times many people find it hard enough to support their own families.

Being kind to others can be as simple as giving blood. It’s free, you get an hour of peace and quiet AND you can get to eat yummy little snacks too. That sounds like the perfect outing to me.

It’s true that ‘giving’ can be a selfish act, because in the act of giving we reap benefits, sometimes without ever being aware of them. The good news is, the benefits go both ways.


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