Mazzuca: Why wait til New Years?
Today most of us will gather with family and friends to celebrate and give thanks for the blessings we enjoy as Americans. But perhaps we can put even more meaning into the day by approaching this upcoming holiday season from a slightly different perspective. Forty days from today millions of Americans will make promises to themselves that most wont keep. So instead of going through the New Years Resolution ritual at the end of the holiday season, why not put those good thoughts and intentions to use now, at the beginning of the holiday season?New research has revealed just how much humans receive when they give to others in very small ways. The take-away, say social and medical scientists, amounts to much, much more than passing feel-good moments. Rather, studies show conclusively that by giving to others we receive what can only be considered a blissful karmic payoff.Terri Trespicio, the associate editor of Body & Soul magazine wrote an interesting piece on this topic with corroboration from physicians, psychologists and sociologists. The common theme was that by giving a little every day, we will live longer, happier and healthier lives.Did you know that volunteering beat out both exercising four times per week and attending religious services in promoting longevity? Did you know studies indicate that next to quitting smoking, giving to others is the best possible thing we can do for our health?The reasons for this arent totally clear, but scientific studies have shown that nurturing others feels good because it promotes increased levels of dopamine, the neurotransmitter linked to cravings, pleasure and reward. If you want a better life, better health, and the sense of being connected and hopeful in this world, the answer is to give, says bioethicist Stephen Post, Ph.D., co-author of Why Good Things Happen to Good People.Extending ourselves for others goes far beyond just being nice, because acts of giving are akin to teaching a man to fish as the saying goes. Gary Morsch, M.D. co-author of The Power of Serving Others tells us the real key to giving is seeing events and situations unfolding around us as opportunities to help, not problems to fix.So specifically what can we do? Well, we can start by doing something as simple as being happy for someone else. One of the most generous things we can do for someone is to share sympathetic joy or true happiness for their good fortune. Sharon Salzburg, the author of Lovingkindness explains, Theres this inherent fear we have that if someone else is happy, theres less happiness for us. But thats simply not true because true generosity of our feelings is fluid and yielding. When we share joy, we welcome greater abundance. When we share and celebrate a friends good fortune, we may find that good fortune and energy rubbing off on us.As noted earlier in this commentary, there are 40 days in this holiday season, so I thought it appropriate to suggest 40 ways we can improve our own lives and the lives of others. Here goes. Say a prayer for someone whos having a tough go of it; hold a door open; bring cookies to the office; give up your seat; participate in a charity event; let go of that old grudge; mentor a colleague whos new to the job; surprise someone; make it a point to compliment someone today; offer directions to a guest or visitor who appears lost on the mountain; tell your mom you love her; tell your dad you love him too; recycle; be free with your praise; if youre traveling this holiday season, help someone with their luggage; acknowledge your childs teachers they are very important people; ask before putting the bar down, and then tell the other riders which way youre going when you put the bar back up; tell five people about some good news; offer someone without a car a ride; tell a joke; for one week, do not criticize, condemn or complain; confront a friend who needs confronting; laugh; yield and allow someone to enter the roundabout when you see a line of cars backing up; organize a neighborhood party; send our county commissioners an e-mail with a positive suggestion; thank the bank teller; when you see a piece of trash on the mountain, pick it up; forgive yourself; be present; call an old high school or college friend; over tip breakfast waitresses; give your full attention; spend time with an elderly person; encourage a young person; smile at people in lift lines; become a big brother or big sister; volunteer at the countys Resource Center or with the Victims Advocacy program at the Sheriffs Department; elect to be an organ donor; keep every agreement till New Years; the next time youre ready to honk at another driver, dont; and lastly, make sure your children see you do some of the things.Each of these little things really isnt so little because in the grand scheme of events, its not what we say to people that makes a lasting impression, its how we make them feel.Happy Thanksgiving!Quote of the Day: What makes life worth the living is our giving and forgiving.
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