Valentine’s Day is about lovers. Well, not exactly. It really is more about caring for others. The holiday is named after Saint Valentine, a Roman priest from the third century known for marrying Christian couples during a time when they were being persecuted by Caldius Gothicus, the Roman emperor of the era.
Saint Valentine was not about his own comforts or his own relationships. He was adamant about caring for others. Helping others reach their potential and share love in a time when you could be killed for doing so. Saint Valentine was caught, arrested, and imprisoned for aiding Christians who loved enough to want something that was illegal at the time. He was martyred for these beliefs and actions.
Are you that committed to helping others that you would sacrifice yourself for it? For me, maybe not. I am humbled by those that stand up to such dire consequences. Hearing this story does refocus my intention on what am I willing to do? How do I want to treat others? What do I want to do to make my community better, my world better? It takes the focus off what flowers am I going to get, or what chocolates didn’t I get. (But boy, do I love hazelnut praline truffles!) And asks the questions, what am I willing to sacrifice?
It changes the focus from me, me, me to we, we, we. That shift in thinking changes my thoughts from a lack of things, to an abundance of opportunity. It shifts the focus from one to many. It changes the focus away from jealousy about what others have that I may not (able to go to the store without baby spit on your shirt, a full toilet paper roll when you go to the bathroom, a clean house with no mystery chocolate under the couch, a co-worker that doesn’t condescendingly explain everything to you in meetings, or a relative that follows through on what they promise), and redirects it to, I have enough. I am where I should be. Others have these same struggles and I am not alone. There may be a woman who cannot have children that envies the baby spit stained shirt. There may be an empty nester that misses the noise and mystery chocolate under the couch.
The focus on, “what can I do for others” reminds me I am willing to fight for what is right. I know there are many people in the same situation that will triumph. They will refocus on relationships and what they can do for others. Because in the end, connecting is what matters. Not the things, not the items I don’t have, but the relationships I support, the people I encourage.
Who are you encouraging? And how? This year I am participating and encouraging my community to get involved. One way of doing that in a huge way is through Impact 100 TC. This is going to be BIG and we need your help! Check out our membership page to learn more.
…Now go do something for someone else in the true sense of Saint Valentine!
What’s Your New Year’s Resolution?
Get Healthy? Feel Happier? Stay Focused? Many of you have set your Goal for 2017. Many of you are thinking: “Why do I have to say no to cheesy potatoes to feel better about myself? If I am not supposed to eat them, why do they taste so good? Ah, ruffled potato chips and late night nachos – you are my friends. You don’t turn your back on your friends!”
Contemplating what you must deny yourself to make your life more meaningful or successful is habitual. We do it every year. We look for the next item to struggle with by ourselves. Why? What if I told you that you can GIVE and get the same positive health effects as a New Year’s Resolution kept the entire year?
Many health studies have recently reported that GIVING – our time, our talent, or our treasure – boosts physical health and mental well-being including:
- Greater happiness
- Increased self-esteem
- Lower blood pressure
- Less depression
- Lower stress levels
- Longer life
Many of you have witnessed it yourself over the latest holiday season. Little ones who wrap a present, only to vibrate with eagerness to give you a hint about the gift contents or have you open it without waiting. This positive feeling is a biological reaction, activating regions in the brain associated with pleasure centers that secrete dopamine (a feel good chemical), serotonin (a mood-meditating chemical), and oxytocin (a compassion and bonding chemical). New moms get a lot of oxytocin upon the birth of their new baby to promote bonding. This good feeling is what gets amplified in adulthood with every giving event in which you participate. How does that impact you physically?
Researchers from the National Institutes of Health looked at the functional MRIs of subjects who gave to various charities. Their results? Giving stimulates the mesolimbic pathway, (the reward center in the brain) releasing endorphins and creating what is known as the “helper’s high.”
Are you looking for more than just a momentary good feeling? Most givers find it, in a longer life span.
In one University of California, Berkeley, study of people 55 and older, even when balancing for contributing factors like age, exercise, general health, and negative habits like smoking, participants who volunteered at two or more places were 44 percent less likely to die over a five year period than those who did not volunteer. A University of Michigan study found similar results of people who gave emotional support to others versus those who did not.
A study published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology found actual physical benefits. People who gave to others had lower blood pressure than people who didn’t.
Researchers also found that people who gave their time to help others through community and organizational involvement had greater self-esteem, less depression and lower stress levels than those who didn’t.
I know this for sure. Cheesy potatoes and nachos are in my future. And I will be GIVING more this year – best of both worlds, right? I’m looking forward to those increased health benefits. Why don’t you join me?
GIVE among an amazing group of women! If you are interested, join Impact 100 Traverse City. For more information, check out our membership page.
Impact 100 Traverse City is a transformational women’s giving community in the five county region of Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau counties. The Impact 100 model, founded in 2001 by then Cincinnati resident and now Traverse City local Wendy Steele, looks to revolutionize a community non-profit with a minimum $100,000 grant opportunity.