News - Just Give Away
by Life Positive
"Whenever I would get into an unhappy, down mood, my mother would always say, 'Well, Stevie, why don't you go out and help somebody?'" he recalls. "I would go out and rake leaves, or help a neighbor put canvas over a boat." He still remembers those small moments vividly because they did make him feel better. And they gave him the impression that helping others was rewarding. Now he knows it for sure.
For the past five years, Dr. Post has been funding research projects that test how altruism, compassion, and giving, affect people's lives and well-being. As head of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love (IRUL), at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, he has sponsored more than 50 studies by scientists from 54 major universities. In a wide range of disciplines – from public health to human development to neuroscience, sociology, and evolutionary biology – the studies have demonstrated that love and caring expressed in doing good for others, lead people to have healthier, happier, and even longer lives. "Giving is the most potent force on the planet ... and will protect you your whole life," says Post, a bioethicist who has taught in the medical school at Case Western for 19 years.
So encouraging are empirical results on altruistic love, that Post and science journalist Jill Neimark have co-written a new book to share the findings, titled "Why Good Things Happen to Good People." The findings include, for example:
- Generous behavior reduces depression, and risk of suicide in adolescents.
- Actively helping others during the teenage years promotes good physical and mental health all the way into late adulthood.
- Volunteerism on the part of older adults significantly reduces mortality.
- Giving to others enables people to forgive themselves for mistakes, a key element in well-being.
- Praying for others reduces health difficulties among older adults.
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