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January 12, 2007
Gaining Release: Healing Hands and Labyrinths

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Posted: January 14, 2005

Spiritual Caregiving

The Caregiver?s Road to the 'Helper?s High'

(Editor?s Note: Research shows that those who help others get a benefit themselves: better mental and physical health. The catch phrase for this phenomenon is ?the helper?s high,? but whatever you call it, we know that our bodies respond well when we help another person. It appears that we?re built that way, and it?s a pattern that seems modeled on caregiving. These three articles offer perspectives on opportunities for and benefits of service.)


Two Questions for a Happy Old Age

It would seem like a recipe for sour grapes: 156 socially disadvantaged old folks who had spent their entire lives at or below the poverty line, who experienced worse than average health, and who worked 20 or more hours a week for a government funded program paying $2.45 per hour plus a bus ticket and a few meals with their training. But in fact this group in Salt Lake City turned out to be significantly more satisfied with life than the average American.

Why? According to psychologist Patrick Dulin and his colleagues at the University of Utah, their lifeboat is altruism.

Their 20-plus hours each week are spent doing good works as Senior Companions helping the frail or as Foster Grandparents helping high risk kids. But, reports Dulin, the predictors for life satisfaction were not contained in those 20 hours. What really made the difference were positive answers to two questions:

1. ?How involved where you in helping others (outside your immediate family) when you were 40 years old??

2. ?When you are not working as a Senior Companion/Foster Grandparent, how involved are you currently??

Not surprisingly, money mattered too. After Dulin carefully factored out health and standard of living, he found that the more financially oriented these people were, the less satisfied they were with life.

-- By Stephen Kiesling


Book Review

A Quaker Book of Wisdom: Life Lessons in Simplicity, Service, and Common Sense
by Robert Lawrence Smith
Eagle Brook 10/99 Paperback $10.00

?Remember to pay attention to the spirit's first command ? to be good at life,? writes Robert Lawrence Smith, former headmaster of Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C. In this warm, wise, and eminently readable work, he ponders the essence of Quaker thought and practice. Here you will find a mix of memoir, history, and sagacious commentary on the values that give life meaning.

Smith explains how Quakers use shared silence as a medium for group discovery in their meetings. He hails simplicity as a cornerstone of this faith where plain speech, frugality, and few possessions are honored. Smith reveals how founder George Fox?s belief that ?there is that of God in each of us? leads to nonviolence and a confidence that good can overcome evil once men and women heed the call of conscience. Equally important is following William Penn?s vision of service of others ? ?Let us then try what love will do.?

A Quaker Book of Wisdom accentuates this religion?s unique contributions to America and to the world. By looking for the light of God in every person, these serious, sober, and diligent folk have made the planet a better place. We can all benefit from their immense reservoir of spiritual wisdom.

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


A Network of Good Deeds

The power of people working together in a good cause has proved stronger than terrorism, natural disaster, or social injustice. To help unleash this power, the website connects more than 24,000 nonprofit and community organizations in 153 countries with individuals who want to contribute their time, talents, or cash.

The site also features what its sponsors claim is the best nonprofit career center on the web, offering both a job directory and an extensive collection of links to other nonprofit directories. There are also special areas for teachers as well as for kids and teens ? because you?re never too young to start changing the world.

-- From the Editors of Spirituality & Health

This article originally appeared in Spirituality & Health magazine, For subscriptions call 1-800-876-8202 or see Editor Stephen Kiesling and his staff contribute weekly columns, features and articles published every Friday as "Spiritual Caregiving" at Contact staff directly via email at

© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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