Heath & Wellness

Stressed out? Give back. Get high.

May 8, 2013

iStock_000022704516XSmall-1Did that title get your attention? Hope so. If you’re like most lawyers – most people – these days, you’re dealing with a lot of stress. We’re living in the age of stress. And stress overload is particularly acute in the legal profession. So, if you’re looking for a way to reduce your stress, consider giving back. I know what you’re thinking, “Is she crazy? I’m already swamped, and she’s asking me to do something else!?!?” The answer is: Yes, I am. Here’s why.

Giving back creates what psychologists call “selfish altruism” or a “helper’s high.” A “helper’s high” is a state of euphoria created by a release of endorphins in the brain. That’s a good thing.

When we’re motivated by a true spirit of generosity, we benefit as much as those on the receiving end. Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello says it this way: “Charity is really self-interest masquerading under the form of altruism. … I give myself the pleasure of pleasing others.” In the same vein, the Dalai Lama playfully speaks of working to benefit others as “selfish altruism.”

But don’t just take their words for it: Research in neuroscience and psychology has offered scientific evidence that helping others brings happiness to yourself. Consider:

According to the measures the “Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey,” overseen by researchers from Harvard University, those who gave contributions of time or money were “42 percent more likely to be happy” than those who didn’t give.

From The Helper’s High, click here to read the entire article.

So, how can you get your own “helper’s high”? Think of ways that you and your team can give back in a way that’s fun and fulfilling. Below are just a few ideas. Brainstorm others with your team. Choose something that you can do as a firm and get everyone involved.

• Collect toys to bring to kids in the hospital.

• Visit a nursing home.

• Mentor a child.

• Adopt a school in your neighborhood.

• Donate clothing.

• Sponsor a food drive for a local food bank.

• Volunteer. Give your everyone on your team paid time each month to volunteer for their favorite charity. Yes, I said paid time. How much? An hour? More? You decide. That investment will pay you back in ways you can’t even imagine now.

When you give back, you’ll be benefitting no only the recipients of your kindness, but yourself and your entire team.

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