Doing Good - Good For You

The following is the end of the article "Do Good and Be Well" by Chris Stewart - Patterson, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia and works as an emergency department physician at an inner city hospital in Vancouver.


"Interestingly, males who regularly donate blood have reduced incidence of heart attacks. A controversial medical debate revolves around whether or not they are benefiting from a reduced iron load, which other research has shown to be associated with a reduced risk of heart attacks. An alternative interpretation, yet unexplored, is that the routine acts of generosity themselves may be contributing to the health benefits.

"Hard-driving, time-pressured Type A personalities are more likely to have reactively higher blood pressures if they make more self-references in interviews: I, me, my, mine. In analyzing recorded interviews of research subjects in the MR. FIT trial (taped well before the subjects had any evidence of heart disease), researchers found that increased self-references were associated later with coronary artery disease and also increased the chance of death due to a heart attack. This occurred regardless of smoking status, cholesterol levels or sedentary lifestyle.

"So are we getting fringe health benefits as a result of altruism, volunteerism and less self-obsession? It's important to note that in the studies mentioned in this article researchers were not directly investigating the issue of selflessness, so from a scientific perspective this is largely speculation. Therefore the answers are, we don't really know yet, and more importantly, that's not why we were acting selflessly in the first place. Ultimately the truth and beauty of selfless acts resides in the fact that regardless of what future research shows about health effects, others benefit from our generosity and compassion right now.

"In Tibetan society, the deep enmeshing of Buddhist spiritual values in daily life allows for a natural integration of the concept of selflessness into medicine. Western physicians face a challenge if they choose to encourage volunteering and charitable acts in the same manner that they encourage exercise or smoking cessation. Envision people striding out of the doctor's office clutching a prescription that says (if they could read it): forget yourself and do good three times a day, preferably before meals.

"Doctors will have to address the paradox of patients intentionally looking for self-benefit through selfless action, or being well by doing good. This may not deliver the same health effects as heartfelt altruism. The key may be in selecting patients who naturally understand that in giving, you received -as long as you don't actually expect anything in return. It's also possible that taking further small steps in generosity may lead people to have positive transformational experiences that will eventually foster a more truly selfless attitude.

"It's tantalizing to think that the central malady identified by an ancient medical system inseparably blended with spiritual philosophy could come to be recognized in mainstream medicine as a radical new definition of self-inflicted harm. The eventual response of society and the medical community to the growing trend in body/mind research may be one of seeing beyond our current limited scope of disease causation to an increased appreciation of the role of holism and spirituality in health. Thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behavior all contribute to the well-being of an individual-in addition to genes and germs. Those who embrace a more expanded view of health realize that the world's sacred traditions have been telling us that for millennia."

P. 154, 155 [chapter 6 - Liberating Knowledge: News from the Frontiers of Science] " … Researchers demonstrated that our attention is exquisitely selective, biased by belief and emotion; … . [P. 155] … Experiments have implicated the endorphins in the mysterious placebo effect, in which an inactive substance like a sugar pill produces relief because the patient expects it. … Faith, inspired by the placebo, apparently releases endorphins. How it happens is as big a mystery as how intention works in biofeedback."
Aquarian Conspiracy Page 154, 155

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"Though it may be easy to view kindness as a one-way street, kindness can and does go both ways. Giving helps the giver just as much as the recipient. According to Cigna, if you don't believe that the giving hand receives, consider these factors:"

Psychological effects of kindness:

"At first glance, it is easy to identify how giving or acts of kindness can show positive effects to the giver. Receiving a warm reaction and knowing that you have helped with easing loneliness or helplessness can (and should) give you personal satisfaction. The initial reactions from an act of kindness may lead to a sense of connectedness with others. Providing relief and protection also adds to this connection, as most people feel a sense of satisfaction from 'giving' to others. Test the theory and see how you feel."

Physical effects of kindness:

"Allan Luks and Peggy Payne have identified some of the physical effects of kindness in their publication "The Healing Power of Doing Good." These effects can include a greater sense of calmness and relaxation, which may also ease pain (from headaches to back pain) and may even reduce high blood pressure. They also suggest that other effects of kindness may increase your energy level and can even reduce excessive stomach acid."

"The implications of kindness are far reaching, just as praise, like sunlight, helps all things to grow.

"You get the idea … ."

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"Depart from evil and do good. So you will abide forever."
Psalm 37:27 - NAS

"Depart from evil, and do good, and dwell for evermore;."
—Darby

Hebrew: Forever/evermore (of future): 1) for ever, always 2) continuous existence, perpetual 3) everlasting, indefinite or unending future, eternity