Monday, September 23, 2013

" Altruism ... "

What have we done, where do we want to go?
The city sleeps forever
It slithers away as we speak
And we tell ourselves to deny it ...

Humility it's creation
Altruism and freedom
Rethink traditions at last
Let this be our manifest

Their lies dominate our inner eyes
While the sounds of laughter shake our dying earth

~ Deadlock ~ Altruism ~

To be altruistic is to reach out to help others in a generous way.  To be altruistic is to reach out a hand to lift someone else up ... the greatest gift for the heart.  

And not only does it benefit the person being helped, but practicing altruism also has many benefits for the person doing the helping.  The gifts that one receives from giving back and from reaching out to help others are immense and priceless.

Psychologists refer to a term called “helpers high”, the feeling charity volunteers have they perform an act of kindness.  You see when a person practices altruism the brain produces dopamine and endorphins, feel good chemicals.  Physically, our nervous and cardiovascular systems relax.  And if the act of kindness is face to face, the body produces a bonding hormone, oxytocin, which binds to the lining of our blood vessels and causes the dilation of arteries, reduction of blood pressure.  At the same time, kindness benefits our nervous system because of a more active vagus nerve.  The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the human body which controls inflammation in the body.  

So do you have to go and change someones life to feel these benefits?  Not at all ... the smallest of acts can make a difference ... pay a compliment, buy someone a coffee ... do something you wouldn't usually do, but which will make a difference.

Good deeds are rewarded in kind ...

And have you ever noticed that altruistic people are happier?  By helping others, they focus outside of self, away from the inward looking nature of anxiety and depression.  The feeling of having acted humanely brings joy.  The fulfillment of a deep impulse of the soul  it is the satisfaction of an ethical impulse—one of the elements, along with free-will, that makes up our humanity. 

“There is real happiness in responding to our 
impulses to do good, 
to rise to our humane dimension. 
One must experience it to grasp the joy and feeling 
of having acted in conformity with one’s true nature.”

Practicing altruism is participating in the Divine’s work ...
So instead of taking a 21 or 30 day challenge to practice altruism, try to incorporate it into your day.  Because practicing altruism is at the heart of natural spirituality and developing this practice support the development of a whole range of moral qualities ... kindness, generosity, listening to others, being attentive to others, being affectionate.  Practice altruism and challenge yourself to go against your deeply ingrained tendency to seek your own well-being, your own comfort.

“ Altruism is innate, but it is not instinctual.  
Everybody’s wired for it, but a switch has to be flipped” 
~ David Rakoff

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