Sunday, August 10, 2014

Helping others makes you live longer

Community center construction project
in Sao Tome & Principe funded by 
friends overseas.
In a fascinating study, researchers discovered that a helping lifestyle is a lifesaver ... for the helper. The one who is helped is blessed too, of course. Feeding the hungry, healing the sick, coming alongside as a friend and working through hard times, all make a difference.  But doing such things seems to add years to your life!  But we knew that all along.  "It is more blessed to give than to receive." ~Acts 20:35.

The study's relevant categories include personal involvement in helping extended family, friends, neighbors, ... giving our strength and skills and resources.

Interestingly, a genuine personal investment in such things is more satisfying (enjoyable) than just attending to your own pleasures and comfort.

A youth volunteer association; they help families
in need!  I met 3 of them carrying water jugs and 
gave them a ride. We did introductions, swapped 
stories; they'll spend a few weeks restoring and 
planting gardens for the neighborhood.
The critical element seems to be actually caring; the functional path appears to be that helping produces a stress-relief, a buffer against the strain of life.  Who knew?

“When we adjusted for age, baseline health and functioning and key psychosocial variables,” Poulin says, “the Cox proportional hazard models (the most widely used method of survival analysis) for mortality revealed a significant interaction between helping behavior, stressful events, morbidity and mortality.
“Our conclusion,” he says, “is that helping others reduced mortality specifically by buffering the association between stress and mortality.
“These findings go beyond past analyses to indicate that the health benefits of helping behavior derive specifically from stress-buffering processes,” Poulin says, “and provide important guidance for understanding why helping behavior specifically may promote health and, potentially, for how social processes in general may influence health.”  See the source article at the University of Buffalo.

Weekend cleanup project, community folks pitch in
together.  West Africa
Plenty of opportunities to add years to our lives and enjoy the process.