• Something to Think About ~ Giving is Receiving, and Receiving is Giving

a daisy with a bee pollenating the flower

Dear Friend,

When you notice a bee alighting on a flower and mindfully sipping its nectar, you might think it is the bee that is receiving help. That is only half the truth. According to some estimates, bees pollinate a third of the food we eat. The cost of our food would double if bees disappeared from the planet. So the exchange between the bee and the flower is symbiotic. Superficially, the bee gets its ingredients for making honey; at a more subtle level, the bee carries the pollen, helping the flower fulfill its life’s purpose (by transforming into fruits and seeds).

Life’s exchanges are similar. While you may feel as if you are always the flower for a swarming, hungry hive, when you look deeper, you will realize that the bees are helping you fulfill your life’s purpose. Sometimes that purpose may not be self-evident. You’ll have to dig deeper for it. Such digging is very beneficial; several research studies conclude that helping or thinking about helping others can provide great benefits to you.

Research shows that people who donate their time often start feeling that they have more time, just as people who donate to charity feel wealthier. Research also shows that when you help others, you improve your physical health, decrease your risk of depression, become happier, increase your likelihood of getting a better job, and even live longer. People who accept your help are truly the angels who are serving you.

In summary, you are helped when you give or receive help; you are helping when you give or receive help.

In each experience, every person is the bee as well as the flower. Life’s every exchange that is powered by good intentions benefits every participant. The precise flow of energy, in terms of time or goods, doesn’t matter.

If you can fully internalize this truth, you are in for a treat all your life. It’s a beautiful way to live.

May you be grateful for the help you receive; may you be grateful for the help you give.

Take care.
Dr. Sood 1
Read previous blogposts and follow @AmitSoodMD on Twitter.

Dr. Sood is director of research in the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He also chairs the Mind-Body Medicine Initiative at Mayo Clinic.

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