Igniting the “givers glow”

One of the most recognizable characters in literature is the parsimonious Ebenezer Scrooge.  During the Christmas season, he, Jacob Marley, Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim step into the spotlight as The Christmas Carol takes center stage on television and in theaters.

You can find a different version of the classic tale on TV any given day during December.  I watched the Muppet adaptation this past weekend and the George C. Scott version last night. Bill Murray does a comedic modern-day Scrooge that is fun to see.

If you count them all there have been over 200 different undertakings to share the classic story of the transformation of a miserable old soul into a giddy and happy benefactor.  It is a story that resonates in our culture.

What lesson does Scrooge learn during that fateful Christmas Eve night when confronted by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come?  He remembers to love.  And his love is embodied in giving. And his generosity changes his whole demeanor.

Professor and researcher, Stephen Post, refers to this new persona as the “givers glow”. Post authored The Hidden Gifts of Helping and is president of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love.

In a holiday message, Post shares some insights about love and giving.  It turns out that the “glow” that comes from giving isn’t wishful thinking.  Participants in the 2010 Do Good Live Well Survey, released by United Healthcare, reported that “volunteering made them feel physically healthier”.

Here are a few more findings:

• 89% report that “volunteering has improved my sense of well-bring”

• 73% agree that “volunteering lowered my stress levels”

• 92% agree that volunteering enriched their sense of purpose in life

• 72% characterize themselves as “optimistic” compared to 60% of non-volunteers

• 42% of volunteers report a “very good” sense of meaning in their lives, compared with
   28% of non-volunteers

Post refers to enduring joy as a by-product of generosity.  And that is Scrooge’s realization.  The narration that closes The Christmas Carol goes:

“Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.”

“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!”

Have a joyful and generous Christmas. Ignite the “givers glow” in you.

S Salt


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