Giving & Health
by Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
“God will not show mercy to him who does not show mercy to others." - Muhammad
The Sufis assert that the highest form of service is self-less, anonymous service that is in alignment with the Truth.
Ordinary charity, or giving to others, is part of being a human being. It is something which is expected in everyday life; it is part of the basic requirement of responsibility towards others. Further, in order for the helping to be most effective, it should be done in secret.
In our society, most often, we make a display of generosity. Pictures which are donated to hospitals have a plaque with the donor's name on it. Or, lists of donors to a charity are published in newspapers.
This is a beginning and important, however, other levels of charity and giving exist. When the recipient knows the giver's identity, there is a risk of obligation. Giving, which is free of obligation, or a feeling of reward, should be the goal. Giving must be out of the necessity of the situation.
Recent research has begun to affirm the relationship between giving to others and good health. This is something which mothers of children could have told any of the scientists and saved them a great deal of time and energy. I remember my own mother saying, she never felt more alive, than when she was raising her own children. The role of a mother is to give and give.
Also, we hear the same thing from volunteers. They feel good when they are helping others. These good feelings, now, are suspected of carrying with them positive biochemical properties which reduce risk of infection, improve emotional health, and reduce stress.
When we are helping others, we focus on their problems, not our own. In the alchemy of the situation, both parties benefit.
“Heaven lies under the feet of mothers.” - Muhammad
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