How Does Your Body Respond To Your Generosity?
So what does happen to your body when you’re generous? In our podcast, we discover an openness unfolds as you are kind to yourself. There is less room for physical angst. You have more control over outbursts. You might notice a decrease in headaches and stomach pains. You simply feel better.
When you decide to go beyond what’s expected of you, you’re being generous. And from www.greatergood.berkeley,edu, www.forbes.com and www.everydayhealth.com, we are so grateful for the work of Dr. Chloe Carmichael, who’s done the research and found pretty amazing benefits from being generous that are linked to our physical and emotional health.
Here are some major health benefits when you’re generous to your body.
LOWER YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE
Did you know that volunteering can lower the risk of high blood pressure or hypertension by up to 40%? Researchers in the journal Psychology and Aging found that of the people they surveyed, individuals who volunteer at least 200 hours a year lower their hypertension risk by up to 40%. There’s strong evidence that having good social connections promotes wellbeing and healthy aging as well – and reduces a number of negative health outcomes.
IMPROVED OUTLOOK, EMPATHY AND INTIMACY
Generosity immediately improves your self image. You feel positive about yourself and you anticipate that those with whom you’re being generous are viewing you in a healthy light as well. You’re more connected to others when you think of things from another’s perspective – and you are more able to deal with your own issues as you see the challenges facing another person. You strengthen your sense of community and safety and are setting yourself up for more support in the future.
MEDITATION ENERGIZES YOU
Using meditation to bring you to a place of calm and peace is a way to be generous to your body. And it changes up a great deal: improved sleep, quality of life, physical health and psychological health. Your empathy and compassion also get a boost. And that means you’ll have more energy to be even more generous.
GIVING IS CONTAGIOUS
Your body isn’t the only thing that benefits when you’re giving – because there’s a ripple effect. It spreads from you to the person you’re helping – and from that person to another and so on. There’s a physical release of oxytocin when you give – that encourages feelings of warmth, euphoria and connection to others. And these symptoms can last up to two hours after you are being generous – and you jumpstart an amazing cycle of generosity – from one body to the next.
Have you ever noticed that the happiest people you know don’t believe they will run out of love – or need to wait to give themselves time to breath and take a break. They just give it to themselves. Most likely, they’re also extremely generous.
What will you do today to be generous to yourself?
We’d love to hear how your generosity is changing up your life – and how your body is responding. The more generous you are – the better you will feel. About yourself and the world around you.
Generosity Changes Up Your Relationships
Generosity has a fascinating way of impacting your life. When you consider being more generous in your relationships, you might be surprised at the changes that start to take hold. Maybe you’ll notice a shift in those with whom you relate – and maybe you’ll spot movement within yourself!
Being generous is defined as the readiness to give more of something – like money or time – than is strictly necessary or expected. When you decide to go one step beyond what’s expected of you, you’re being generous.
Generosity rarely happens by chance – it’s an intentional decision.
“You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan
There are some amazing ways to bump up generosity your friends, family, acquaintances and romantic connections. We’re grateful to a number of sources as we explore how to be generous, including:
So what does it look like when you’re more generous in your relationship? You might begin adding one or more of these practices to your daily routine.
Think of listening as an act of generosity and a source of discovery. When you listen to a friend or your partner or your neighbor or a family member – really listen and hear them – the result is amazing. Without offering a solution or an answer, choosing to quietly absorb and hear what someone has to share can change your relationship. See what happens when you don’t jump to a conclusion – or finish a sentence – or think about the next thing to say – or interrupting.
COMMIT TO ONE 5-MINUTE FAVOR A DAY
Adam Rifkin, Wharton Professor of Management, came up with the ‘5-minute favor.’ It’s simple: maybe you can use a product and offer constructive feedback. Introduce two people in an email because of mutual interest. Share, comment or retweet something on social media…you get the idea. One 5-minute favor a day.
CONSIDER THE BENEFITS
You can count the benefits of generosity – and they do add up. People who are generous report they are happier, healthier and more satisfied with life. Generosity produces a sense inside of you that you’re capable to making a difference in the lives of the people with whom you interact – as you address the needs of those around you.
NOTICE WHAT WOULD MAKE SOMEONE’S LIFE EASIER
What might you do that would help out your neighbor or friend or partner’s life? Maybe one is stressed out, or needs to deal with a sick loved one, or is injured or needs a ride – what might you be able to do that could ease the load? When you talk to someone and wonder what you could do for them – instead of what they can do for you – you’re being generous.
COMPLIMENT THREE STRANGERS
Try this with a child, an elder and someone your age. Be really specific: what a great way to ride that tricycle. Or simply, “you look fantastic today.”
THANK SOMEONE WHO HAS MADE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE
If possible, let your mom know how she has influenced you. Or share with your dad how his life changed yours. Or reach out to an aunt or uncle or cousin or mentor – and express how what they’ve done for you has helped make you the person you are today.
When you are generous in your relationships, there’s no telling how your connections will deepen – and how you will appreciate what it means to have people in your life who matter. And when they discover how much you are grateful for what they’ve done, you open doors for deeper friendships.
Please let us know how being generous changes up your life, and the lives of those around you!
The transition from closed to open ended questions
What was the first question you remember asking? I wonder that as I observe young children, whose unobstructed questions stream out like water. As you attend school, you learn to confine your questions to Q-A time. Somewhere along the way you realize that questions either have a strong sense of place in your life or they’re more like the ‘what’s for dinner?’ variety.
For years, questions dominated my life. Whether I was on a breaking story or in the studio, it was my job to relate whatever was happening by asking questions of witnesses or experts who would enlighten and inform me and the audience. In most instances I had an agenda, to better understand the situation or uncover something hidden. Inquiry was part of this process, but it was more important to get a specific answer. While I didn’t revel in closed-ended questions, if it got me the answer I was looking for, that was fine. I was a questioning machine.
Two experiences challenged my questioning style.
The first event took place when my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. To better understand how to care for him I took a “Savvy Caregivers” class. On day one, JJ, our very enthusiastic instructor, was clear.
“Stop asking your lovey (her wonderful word for our loved one with Alzheimer’s) questions. It confuses them.”
“Place a glass of water in front of him. If he wants something else, he’ll tell you. By asking him to choose between water and something else, he might get confused. And that’s where agitation can set in.”
Eventually I came on board and communicated the ‘no questions’ mantra to everyone in my dad’s presence. Through the years of his decline, he was rarely frustrated.
The second event was the day I asked one of my adult sons about an event that had transpired the night before.
“Mom, you already know what happened.”
“Yes, but I’d like to hear it from you.”
“It was fine,” was his response.
I was informed, respectfully, that my question about something I already knew the answer to was not an inquiry into how my son was doing. Instead it came across as an interrogation of something that needed no more revelation.
So I began a review of my questioning style. And what I discovered was fascinating and daunting. I did start many of my questions in an accusatory manner, “did you? are you? do you really? is that? why?”
As you might expect, the response to these closed-ended questions was almost always defensive.
A new approach.
Ironically I’ve transitioned into another profession that is steeped in asking powerful questions: life coaching. In every hour of my International Coaching Federation training, the types of questions I’ve been encouraged to ask have transformed how I see myself and the people around me.
I thought back to a few of the questions and statements I’d uttered in the past year when challenged to consider how I pose questions and make statements.
Why did you buy that piece of junk?
Don’t you care about how we feel?
Is that what you’re wearing to dinner?
What were you thinking?
How is your car running?
We’ll miss you, have a great time.
Where is that blue shirt you got last week?
How did you arrive at your decision?
You can feel the tone in each of the original questions just by reading them out loud. They have a squirm factor. The reframed questions don’t judge. They’re real, inquiring questions. And if one was posed to me, I would have no reason to be defensive.
How do you stop using the original questions? By replacing them with the style of the new questions which begin with ‘how? what? where?’ Over and over again. I’m reminded of the words of a friend who pushes me to be a stronger cyclist by telling me it’s all about ‘time in the saddle.’
Every time I use this newfound approach, removing the negative tone, I find that I think differently of the person. It also seems to alter the reception of that question by the receiver, because there is no blame or accusation.
I write sticky notes with the words, ‘how? what? and where?’ and post them on my computer. Every time I’m tempted to launch into, ‘why did you…?’ I pause and attempt to use, ‘what are you learning…? It turns out my brain is creating new neural pathways with these reframed questions. If I must pause and count a few beats — waiting for this language to take hold — so be it.
This isn’t a new idea. For the past several decades Positive Psychology, Appreciative Inquiry, Emotional Intelligence, and a host of other modalities have been inspiring us to look for the best or the best outcome in a person or an organization. They’re based on the premise that, “Human systems grow in the direction of their deepest and most frequent inquiries.” When we begin by reframing something as simple as a question, the result can be dramatically different.
So the next time you’re ready to blurt out, “Why did you dye your hair pink?” I encourage you to pause, breathe and consider a reframe. “What shade of pink are you using?”
What have you got to lose?
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