Each week I look forward to visiting with my 93 year old friend, Helen, in the nursing home where she now lives. I often show up with a fresh bouquet of flowers in a mason jar tied with a checkered ribbon—which always puts a big smile on her face, and mine, too. Then we spend the next hour or so chatting about our lives while I give her a manicure, sitting together in the sun holding hands, and sometimes we even tackle a craft project together. Every time I leave Helen I experience a deep sense of satisfied joy. Now I’ve discovered the scientific “why” for this emotion that predictably washes over me—and it’s deeper than sentiment; in fact, it’s chemical!
While researching for my book, Get Healthy…for Heaven’s Sake, I attended a continuing education seminar on the subject of depression. During that course of study I was pleasantly surprised to learn that two extremely important brain-enhancing neurotransmitters, found to be at insufficient levels in people suffering with depression, are produced during particular social interactions.
A quoted research study showed that when one person demonstrates an act of kindness towards another, the bodies of both the helper and the one who is being helped were measured to have significantly increased levels of the two mood-elevating neurotransmitters, serotonin and endorphins. Even more surprising was that if a third person—an uninvolved bystander—witnessed this act of kindness, her levels of serotonin and endorphins were measured to have increased as well!
I guess I shouldn’t have been that surprised as Proverb 11:25 states,
“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
So refresh your own soul this week by showing someone you love (or a perfect stranger) a little TLC. The benefits of your good deed will flow back to you— and to anyone else blessed enough to be present!