A few weeks ago, on a bright and sunny San Diego afternoon, there was a knock on my door. I answered it to find a representative for an established charity that works to help needy children around the globe through sponsorship. I had been on the fence about committing to sponsorship for a while, worried about stretching my budget to accommodate another monthly donation. After consideration, I decided to sign up, the notion of giving more to have more playing a small but notable role in my action. I will spare you a discussion on altruism, but the idea of giving more to have more has very little to do with recognition, praise, or tangible return on investment. So, if you give more of yourself, whether in time, money, or energy, what, then, does have more mean? And, what does it mean to our health?
The 1st law of energy, which states that energy is neither created nor destroyed but remains constant within the universe, is most certainly relevant in the scope of human health and well-being. In a physical sense, we need energy to survive. This energy comes from the sun, and is taken in by plants which we either consume directly or indirectly (by eating animals that have eaten plants). The nutrients that we consume fuel our daily functions, and energy balance is achieved when the calories we consume match the calories we exert throughout the day. Moreover, tipping too far out of energy balance can set off a cascade of effects that can wreak havoc on our well-being.
On an emotional and spiritual level, I’d like to think that the first law of energy still applies. That is, the amount of emotional energy within the universe is constant, frequently converted between love, gratitude, joy, peace, envy, fear, and hate. Positive energy is created when we give of ourselves with the intention of bettering the world around us. By cultivating and spreading positive energy, we can diminish the amount of existing negative energy, and energy that is returned to us is more likely to be positive as well.
You may be feeling a bit skeptical. I know this sounds a little new age, and you may be thinking, what on earth does this have to do with keeping me healthy? Consider this: the World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Furthermore, in a study cited in the Textbook of Functional Medicine, researchers King and Bushwick found that an whopping 94% of hospital patients believed spiritual health to be equally as important as physical health. Focusing on being kind, patient, and understanding can lower stress levels, which improves physical well-being. Moreover, giving more of yourself, whether through time, charitable donation, or simply expressions of kindness and love (and therefore purposefully spreading positive energy) help to improve both social and spiritual well-being.
As I mentioned earlier, give more to have more is not about the expectation of acknowledgement or tangible returns from your giving. It is not about building up good karma. It is opening your heart and giving when you aren’t sure there is anything left to give, connecting with your spiritual well-being and pouring kindness and love into the universe so that they may be shared with others and returned to you in abundance.
The holidays are a wonderful time to give, but even in everyday life, throughout the entire year, I challenge you to keep in mind and act upon this idea of giving more to have more. Random acts of kindness are among the most beneficial steps we can take to improve our mood, and approaching each new situation from a place of love and compassion will drastically improve our health and lives, as well as the lives of others. With a definite amount of emotional energy in the universe, we can each do our part to keep this energy positive.