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Have you thought about why you feel so much better when you are serving someone else? Have you ever felt the warm “fuzzy’s” after blessing someone with a favor or kind deed? Have you found yourself the recipient of someone else’s gift of serving? What is it that they have? Why do they seem happier and/or healthier? It has been studied and proven that when we are serving others, giving, caring, doing for another…not only is the recipient blessed but we feel better too!
Do you realize it’s not just the way we think that is impacted by serving, it’s physical and emotional too! Several studies have found that not only does serving others cause mood improvements but it has health benefits as well. Giving helps you overcome stress – your body releases a hormone called oxytocin, which helps you buffer stress while increasing social trust and tranquility – the “compassion hormone” as it has been labeled helps limit exposure to the stress hormone cortisol, says Stephanie Brown from Stony Brook University, New York. Stacey Curnow, creator of Midwife for Your Life, says about experiencing a release of oxytocin, “It’s a self-perpetuating cycle! After a positive exchange, more oxytocin is released and we are even more likely to reach out and interact with others in a cooperative and nurturing manner.”
Other studies have found that those who serve live longer. A study by Elizabeth Lightfoot, PhD at the University Of Minnesota School Of Social work, showed that seniors who gave 100 hours or more annually lived 22 percent longer than seniors who did not serve others. And one of the beautiful findings is that it’s not just seniors or adults, but young children, even toddlers. A study by Aknin, Hamlin and Dunn: Giving Leads to Happiness in Young Children, found that given a choice toddlers are happier when they share with others, even if it is at a cost to themselves. WOW!!
Additional health benefits are pain relief, lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety and discomfort. If you want to manage your pain serve others dealing with the same or similar pain. A study done by Paul Arnstein, PhD, specialist in pain relief at Massachusetts General Hospital found when people suffering with chronic pain helped others with the same ailment, they reported feeling less discomfort themselves and recognized the positive effect they had on others in the same situation. Which then gave them a greater sense of purpose. I know this is true from personal experience in the MS world. A group of 20 and sometimes more of us who battle MS work out together at a gym. We all come with differing levels of physical ability, we raise the level of JOY in the room simply by cheering each other on and/or challenging each other to try new things. It’s amazing and very heartwarming! Each of us are improving our health by increasing our stamina, challenging our bodies to do more AND having fun being supported by each other. We have a group of dedicated volunteers that come weekly to record our progress, encourage and challenge us. Ask any of those volunteers why they serve – you get an answer of how they are inspired and motivated by those they are serving.
Another study in the journal of Psychology and Aging found adults over the age of 50 who reported volunteering at least 200 hours in the past year were 40 percent less likely than nonvolunteers to have developed hypertension four years later! Researchers believe that the stress-reducing effects of being both active and altruistic helped the volunteer’s lower blood pressure. And we find from another source that, raising our oxytocin hormone level limits our exposure to the stress hormone cortisol, from Stephanie Brown, PhD Stony Brook University, New York.
What do we do with all of this? How can we impact our health and mood? I firmly believe we look for opportunities to SERVE! To help us remember, give a few more reasons and a couple of simple suggestions, let’s look at serving this way.
S – E – R – V – E
S – Simply Smile at others. Anyone can do it and it’s contagious! Go ahead, give it a try next time you are at the grocery store, in your neighborhood or at church. Simply Smile and see what happens. Serving can be THAT easy!
E – Excite others and invite them to serve with you. If you are getting all the health benefits of lower blood pressure, higher levels of the “compassion hormone” and living longer….invite others to experience the same with you!
R – Renew your HEALTH by serving – Have a chronic issue? Find a group or organization that serves others like you and SERVE them. It could be as easy as a phone call checking in with them, leading a group, doing a visit, running errands….but whatever you do for others, you will be surprised how that makes YOU feel healthier – like mentioned earlier….you can step out of your pain, anxiety or mild depression by serving others living with the same issue.
V – Volunteer – Give of your time, talent or resources and just wait to see the results! If it’s a cause you believe in, you will reap the benefits we’ve listed earlier and others as well! If you don’t believe results from research, then do your own! Take time to find an organization, ask at your church, research on-line or stop by a Community Center and see what they need. Can you fit that need? Give it a little time and if you are volunteering out of caring – NOT obligation – you will reap the health benefits listed and help others!!
E – Even financial contributions make us feel better. Remember after 911, the tsunami in Japan, or any big catastrophe that has a way to contribute financially– even anonymously? People JUMPED at the chance, the mood in the country was of charity. I would bet your oxytocin hormone level would elevate! A study done at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School found that employees who spent a greater portion of bonuses they had received on others or made charitable donations with it reported greater happiness than those who spent more of the bonus on themselves. Give it a try!
If you are thinking that you would like to find your niche or to discover what it is you are meant to do, I would enjoy working with you! You can simply go to the Speak To Me page and contact me. We can together help you clarify your values, discover your strengths/gifts and guide you on the road to pursuing your purpose!
I would LOVE to hear your serving stories and how it not only benefited those you served, but how your health has improved. Please share your story in the comments section.
Until next time, be blessed and BE a blessing!
We recently took a walk in our favorite local park. We were saddened to see that the BIG oak tree had fallen and lay cut in pieces to be taken away. This tree, by our semi-scientific calculations, was over 250 years old. What we loved about this tree is it stood so majestically at the bottom a hill flanked by benches for storytelling time, waving its beautiful branches in the wind. But, as we investigated a bit, the core of the tree was rotted away. Hmmm, without the tree being down and cut, we would not have seen the rotted inside. There were probably signs previous to it falling, like branches falling off more frequently, maybe some insects running up and down its bark, or a large number of acorns being produced in the last year….which we learned from a tree “guy” is a sign that the tree is in distress. Whatever the little signs might have been we missed them and were surprised to find this majestic oak tree down.
What does this have to do with anything but an old oak tree falling? I think it has a lot of similarities to how we are at times. We put on a good front when inside we are crying out for something. Others may look great on the outside but suffer from disease. Or we look great, strong and powerful on the outside but inside we are feeling empty, lonely or depressed. What can be done to prevent our insides from “rotting” away and causing us to fall from the discord inside of us? If we are not feeling well or feeling like something just isn’t right, we can go to a doctor. They have been gifted with wisdom and have access to many tools to look inside to see what might be wrong. When we get a diagnosis, we can then start the treatment to get better, from the inside out! We have friends who recently lost someone special in their life, he ignored signs of something being wrong and finally when the symptoms became debilitating he went to a doctor. “The cancer is too advanced, there is nothing we can do. I’m sorry,” was the diagnosis. How terribly sad for all involved.
I know from my own experience that something was wrong with my body several years ago. That strange numbness and tingling was on my left side and now going to the right side. MRI’s were ordered and when we saw the lesions on my spine and in my brain we knew we were dealing with MS. Treatment with medication, eating well and exercising, I feel healthier than I ever have before. We found the issue and we have made plans to address it. In the next article, we will deal with times when the inside is good, but the outside doesn’t perform or look as good…..another topic completely…stay tuned.
What about those of us who are crying on the inside. Eventually your outside will show what is on the inside. No it won’t Chris, I’ve hidden it for years, you might be thinking. I have to disagree with you. When we fake health, whether that be physical, emotional or spiritual it WILL come out! Maybe we try to cover it up with alcohol, keeping our relationships at surface level, or we have practices of coping we do in private. Whatever we are doing to hide it, cover it up or push it to the back of our mind, it is making us sick – rotting on the inside. What can be done? Plenty! If you are ready to change, heal and live a fuller life! You can visit a counselor who can work with you to discover the root of your inside trouble and help you heal. You can seek out a recovery group that can help you address the issues you are covering up with other things. You can reach out to someone that you trust who can walk with you on this journey of healing from the inside out. The important step is to start!
Okay, you might be saying, Chris I am healthy, I have a good life, but I do sometimes feel like there is more to life, I’m just not sure what or if it’s just silly for me to think that way. I’m not really rotting on the inside, but I do feel like there is something missing. There are some things you too can do! If you are feeling unfulfilled in your job, relationships, marriage, or spiritual life, there are things you can do to help you find the missing piece or pieces. Are you in a job that fits with your values or do you struggle every day as you prepare for going to work with questions or worse – dread? Do the people in your life share your beliefs and values? Are they helping you grow? Have you helped them grow? Are you deepening your understanding of what you believe spiritually? Are you living out what you are learning? Would others be able to acknowledge what you believe by the way you behave? There are things you can do to become healthier on the inside, how you can find those missing pieces and how you can live a more purposeful fulfilled life. Find someone you trust and open up to them about your concerns of feeling empty. Search for guidance from a coworker, leader in your church, family member or friend you trust. You can also receive guidance from a counselor or Life Coach. I would be honored to talk with you about your desired next step or help you discover your next step, simply go to the Speak To Me page and we can connect. Together we can discover, grow and develop your purpose. You will bless yourself and those around you! Whatever you choose to do, I ask you to DO SOMETHING. Your inside and your outside can match, your life can be driven by your purpose and values…..a fulfilled life!
If you are aware of someone who would benefit from this article please feel free to pass it along and/or share.
Our journey through the word Enough has taken us from our past (Part 1) – what we did or what they said….was enough. To ENOUGH (Part 2) – or desire to make a change, stop a behavior, set boundaries. And now, we’ll chat about Ahhhh, Enough, (Part 3) our thoughts and actions on having, being, and our abundance of “Enough”. Or some may use the words, contentment, happy, filled, peace or satisfied.
Our culture encourages us to constantly crave MORE – to Have more, Be more, Attain more, Buy more…and the list goes on. What I feel when I’m focusing on culture is that I always NEED more. Whether we are trying to get “ahead” in our jobs, paying our mounting bills, buying more stuff, moving to a bigger home…all of it is feeding the feeling that we will we never have “enough”. That is a vicious cycle and it wears us out!
What if together we looked around at all we have and made a decision to have an attitude, thought or feeling of “Enough”? What would that be like? What comes to my mind is a sigh of relief and thankfulness. That’s a feeling I desire to have. How about you?
Any of the research and materials/books investigated on contentment or this feeling of “Ahhhh, enough” concludes this is something we all seek. Why do we find ourselves longing for contentment but not achieving it? If we listen to the wrong things, if we look longingly at other people’s stuff or if we are not living the passion/purpose/values we have in our hearts, it will be a tough road, but the great news, with a few changes in our focus…… it is possible! We can arrive at the destination of “ahhhh, enough”. How you may ask is that possible? By changing our attitude, clarifying what is valuable, finding our purpose and being grateful for what we have. It’s a choice we make to let go, change what we can and be grateful for all we have that will lead us on the journey to contentment. Is this a journey you would like some guidance with? My passion is to help guide people in this journey! You can contact me by going to the Speak To Me page.
You are unique so whatever steps you take are unique to your situation, your beliefs and values. What is the same for all of us is making a choice to see our lives, as unique as they are, through a grateful heart. Have you ever taken the time to write down all you are grateful for? I suggest you stop reading right now, grab a piece of paper or a notebook and list ALL you are grateful for. Ready? GO!
Was that a tough assignment for you or is the tough part to stop writing your grateful list? If you are not able to stop writing, you are one of the people that have reached….Ahhhh, enough! You understand contentment and you can probably relate to the words of the Apostle Paul, written in a letter to the church in Philippi. Philippians 4:11b – 13 I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. If you are content with all you have that is a blessing and a gift! With your abundance you probably find it easy to give to others, to encourage them in their quest for contentment. Way to go!!
If on the other hand, writing what you are grateful for was difficult, what may be the issue? Our thoughts – When we focus on what we don’t have, on what is wrong or what is lacking in our lives our heart and mind will become negative, anxious, worried and as shown in this small assignment, ungrateful. Our lives may feel like we are running on a wheel in the hamster cage – always running but never really going anywhere. We find ourselves tired, unfulfilled, crabby, jealous, envious and disappointed in ourselves and others. I believe if we stop and turn our thoughts to focusing on what we DO have, what is right, and how grateful we are with our abundance our minds and hearts will follow and life will look different! We will become content, we will experience, “ahhh, enough”!
As in parts 1 & 2 in this series, I will share a little about myself and why I know “ahh, enough” is possible! It was almost 7 years ago, when I was in the group I mentioned in Part 2 where life change was happening, I was getting healthier in so many ways, losing a bunch of weight and getting fit. I was riding my bicycle in my neighborhood when I rode right into a tree. Yep, right into the trunk of a very old, very large & very hard tree. After looking around to make sure no one was watching, I realized I was bleeding from scrapes on my leg and arm, but thankful my helmet saved me from banging my head, but ouch…..my pride was hurt!! How does anyone run into a TREE?! After several days of limping, losing sensation on my left side, going to my chiropractor and being encouraged to see my doctor and a MRI – the diagnosis was MS. WHAT?!?! I was clumsy and hit a tree, I’m getting healthier than I ever have been, how could I have a chronic disease? After several additional MRI’s, neurologist appts it was confirmed, I have Multiple Sclerosis. It took a few weeks of shock, self-pity, screaming, crying and more for me to realize I had a choice to make. I could operate out of negativity OR I could find a way to think of my situation differently. Not an easy choice, but one that was necessary for me to live my life abundantly! First were the prayers…..if I have MS then help me use it to help others. Second, I changed the name of MS to More Special. After all, one of the reasons sclerosis happens is over-achieving T-Cells. I also changed the type of MS I have from Relapsing Remitting to Relaxing and Renewing More Special. A small change in thinking but it made a HUGE impact on how I moved forward as a woman who lives with MS. I try daily to focus on being content with life, with what I am able to do for others, on what I have been blessed with and how I can share that with others. I know you can too! I would enjoy the opportunity to work with you as you achieve, “Ahhhh, enough” in your life. You can connect with me by going to the Speak To Me page.
If you have reflected on what tapes or movies play inside your mind for you and you have turned those around to realizing what you did, what they did was what they knew, accept it for what it is…..thank them for what you learned and move on?! If you shouted ENOUGH and took steps to set up new boundaries, remove yourself from a situation or relationship, learned a new behavior and/or moved forward to set goals to become a person with a purpose and now you are ready to experience more “ahhh, enough”. GOOD FOR YOU!!
You may need some guidance with these steps of realizing “enough”, you may desire to talk with a counselor, trusted friend, family member or Life Coach. You can reach me by going to the Speak To Me page. Together we can work towards your “Enough!”
If this series of articles helped, encouraged or challenged you, I invite you to leave a comment and/or share this with others who may be interested. If there is a topic you would like me to address in the future please leave that information as well.
Thank you for taking the time to visit and read! Blessings!
Following are some additional quotes on “Ahhh, enough” or contentment.
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. – Oprah Winfrey
It is right to be contented with what we have, never with what we are. – James Mackintosh
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. – Wayne Dyer
Watch your manner of speech if you wish to develop a peaceful state of mind. Start each day by affirming peaceful, contented and happy attitudes and your days will tend to be pleasant and successful. – Norman Vincent Peale
The very fact that we long for the change we do is a sign that we are meant to have it. Our very dissatisfaction with our weaknesses and struggles points to the reality that continuing to live in them is not our destiny. – Stasi Eldredge
Why did I leave a job I loved? Why did I move to Milwaukee? Why did I open my heart to Brian? Why did I leave all that I have known for over 50 years? Why did I move away from my grown daughter and extended family? Why did I become a life coach? Why indeed!
I believe I am in the right spot for my life at this very moment. I am a Life Coach who longs to guide people to clarify their values, discover their unique gifts and lead a more purposeful life. I am a “retired” pastor who continues to volunteer and develop leaders. I am a Milwaukee resident following my heart to marry the best husband! I am a trailblazer and willing to try new things. I appreciate all I have learned from others in my past and my past experiences. I am a Gramma who treasures time with the kids and the “little’s” YAHOO for Skype! I love my MN family and friends.
Why the confession? It was revealed to me on Wednesday, November 12th how blessed I am, how I live a rich life, how God created me with unique gifts that help others and how I am not doing the best I can. Not a “shame on you” or a “you are wasting time” kind of truth. A question really of “what are you putting in the way that is a stumbling block to sharing what you were created to do?” After some thought and asking for guidance, my passion is not to become a Life Coach to be rich and famous, I became a Life Coach to assist others in clarifying their values, finding their unique passions and setting goals to lead a purposeful life! What is in the way of that happening? I believe it has to do with how I look at my coaching practice. Is it a career? Yes. Is Life Coaching a type of ministry to help guide others to be the very best they can be? Yes. Is my Life Coaching practice assessable to those who desire to clarify their values, discover their uniqueness and enjoy a more purposeful life? Maybe, but not assessable to those with real life financial constraints and/or concerns. The awesome folks I know in the MS community who live in a reality of crazy high medical expenses, a Life Coach is an extra that is not in the budget, no matter how much they are desired. Single parents, which I was for over 20 years, may be hard pressed to afford such a perceived extra luxury, no matter how much a Life Coach would help to enrich their life and their children’s lives. A family who is struggling to purchase the groceries, pay the mortgage or general living expenses, but who know a Life Coach would help their family dynamics with communication and goal setting. These are the people I long to coach! One of the stumbling blocks I believe is the higher financial cost. If I lower that barrier, I believe people who are desiring to grow, change, enrich and explore their lives to lead a more purposeful life will have a better opportunity to seek out my coaching.
Today I am announcing a dramatic change in my fee structure. Discovering gifts and passions, accountability, setting and tracking goals toward a more purposeful life will take time. There are several package options to work with me as your Life Coach.
Package #1 – Five hour long sessions that can be in person, Skype or phone, where we will clarify values, set goals, identify your passions and help you be accountable in your growth towards a more purposeful life. These 5 sessions will be scheduled in a 10 week period. Also included are 3 (up to 15 minute) email or phone support during the coaching period $150
Package #2 – Five 45 minute walks with 15 minute wrap up sessions. Walk in nature to reconnect with creation, or walk in a public location to clear your mind and focus on what steps you want to take to reach your goals. These sessions will be in person, will have level terrain with paths, roads or indoors. These 5 sessions will be scheduled in a 10 week period. Also included are 3 (up to 15 minute) email or phone support during the coaching period $150
Package #3 – Six 1 hour sessions for Couples – one or two sessions with individual and four or five with couple together to work on values, communication, relationship and goals for couple to pursue their family life purpose. Can be in person, Skype or phone. These 6 sessions will be scheduled in a 3 month period. Also included are 4 (up to 15 minute) email or phone support during the 3 month coaching period $180
Package for returning clients – Three 1 hour sessions – can be in person, Skype or by phone. Sessions will be to reconnect with the goals you had set and steps you took in our first set of sessions then focus on new goals from the new habits you formed, accountability and celebrating your movement forward in pursuing your life’s purpose. These 3 sessions will be scheduled in a 2 month period. Also included are 2 (up to 15 minute) email or phone support during the coaching period $80
1 hour sessions – $40 hr. schedule at least one week in advance.
All coaching packages come with a money back guarantee. A refund, if requested, will be given after your first session. A pro-rated refund will be given for any unused sessions at the $40 hr. rate any time after your second session. You may discontinue your coaching package at any time during the process.
Thank you for reading this post. I hope this shows how all of us get chances to change, grow and start new in areas of our lives. If you are interested in working with me as your Life Coach, please go to the Speak To Me page and complete the simple form.
We are blessed to have undeveloped park land behind our home. This brings the opportunity for a LOT of wildlife in our backyard! Birds, deer, coyote, butterflies, squirrels, snakes, possum and one sighting of a mink to name a few! My hubby, Brian, has been feeding the birds for years with several types of feeders. We enjoy the visits from many types of birds throughout the seasons. We live in SE Wisconsin, it seems we can experience several seasons within a few days.
This Spring we have been blessed with new sightings and the return of old feathered friends. Today we have three pair of Cardinals – their song is beautiful and the flash of red as the males fly in and out of the big pine tree is amazing. Not sure if we have four or five couples of House Finches who travel with their mate everywhere – feeders, oranges on the table, grape jelly dish on the feeder pole, birdbath for a cool drink – together always, the male with his red head and the female with her brown stripes. We have been blessed to have two sets of Baltimore Orioles, who are brilliant orange with black and one Orchard Oriole, who is brick red with black, this season. They visit us at the feeders often flying from one to the other with their beaks full of jelly and nectar. The hummingbirds flit from our two feeders and this year we added a swing for their (our) enjoyment, they take a quick drink then fly to the top of our neighbors crab apple tree – apparently to be the top bird in the yard. Grosbeaks, Robins, Sparrows, Blackbirds, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers, Mourning Doves and others, fly in, eat, drink, and I think socialize! With the back door and windows open the sounds are calming, refreshing and mesmerizing. Some days I turn the rocking chair to face the backyard to relax and observe.
What I’ve noticed this year, different from years past, are several deviations from the norm in our wildlife friends. Whether by injury or design, we have some unique, special looking wildlife friends. The first to come and visit was our squirrel friend who lost his tail from an encounter with the large Cooper Hawk. We thoroughly enjoy his antics as he bounces in the yard doing all the normal squirrel things, but with a different twist and purpose in his movements. We noticed last week we have a female House Finch that lost an eye. She and her mate come to the feeders, birdbath and extra fruit treats regularly, they are now teaching their young ones how to feed themselves. A lovely sight of loyalty and parenting with a few adaptations to help her with her tasks. The third anomaly we noticed is a female Cardinal without any feathers on her head. She looks like she has a black leather hat on, she too just goes about the business of feeding and caring for herself, her mate and little one.
As I reflect on our wildlife friends, I think how does this apply to me? To US? Each of us are created uniquely, with gifts, personalities, preferences and appearances different from anyone else. We are created in the image of God Genesis 1:27. Some of us have lost sight of our beauty and our uniqueness. We carry scars, loss, and disappointments around with us, not seeing the beauty and opportunity to use our unique experiences to better our world and the people around us! Like the nature friends in our backyard it might take some adaptations or support from others for you to see your unique qualities. I encourage you to look at your scars, reflect on your challenges, remember and celebrate your experiences to see what you can learn. Ask yourself how you can use that awareness for the betterment of yourself, your family, all those around you and beyond! You have a purpose, you are gifted, a unique creation that can make a difference in the world! “Every man and woman is born into the world to do something unique and something distinctive and if he or she does not do it, it will never be done.” Benjamin E. Mays
I found this to be true in my own life. In the Fall of 2007 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis What sounded like a death sentence has become one of the best ways for me to connect with others. I changed the name Multiple Sclerosis to More Special, because I am! With a few adaptations, support from my family and friends I can see how MS is a unique blessing in my life. I make opportunities to hike, work, learn, discover, create & play daily, which I know encourages others. No matter your history or your present situation, you can find your purpose and bless others through your uniqueness!
Do you want to find out more about YOU and how you can make a difference? Swing by the Speak To Me page and complete the simple form then I will connect with you. Let’s see how we can work together to guide you in your new awareness, to clarify your unique gifts, set goals to find and put into action your purpose!