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What’s it All About

Life. What’s it all about?
Love. Connection with God and others.
Where can we find it?
Within ourselves, in others, through acts of kindness, relationships, acts of service, etc.

Can it be achieved in sports as an athlete? As an artist? An Educator? In the military?

I believe we all have unique gifts and abilities.  I also believe our lives are made of many areas (acording to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, there are 10 Principles of life). It seems as though the challenge is keeping the 10 principles in balance (or check). If we focus too much in one area, another may be lacking.

I don’t think education, art, sports or the military has the answer. The answer lies within and from a much bigger source. 

I believe that we can choose,  however to take that amazing love, connection and purpose into industries such as sports,  art, education and the military if we are so brave to choose to do so.

Love and peace.  May you find your purpose and path and prosper with purpose 🙂


Healing (through illness and loss)

Running head: Grief – Healing through illness and loss




Grief – Healing through illness and loss


Michelle R. Wallpe

State University

HSC 581

December 6, 2012


Many people these days are faced with trying to heal from diseases such as cancer. Because of it being so wide spread throughout the country, many of us are left trying to heal from the loss of loved ones. We are struggling with disease and our own wellbeing either due to disease or due to the illness of a loved one we are giving care for. In fact, “Based on census data, over 50 million people serve as family caregivers for a loved one.” (Brunner-Routledge, p. 182)

In fact, family caregivers currently provide about “80% of all home health services,” (Brunner-Routledge, p. 182) with an estimated value of “$257 billion” (Brunner-Routledge, p. 182) per year.

These staggering statistics illustrate the importance of the subject of grief and healing.  Can healing occur for the family and friends who are left behind after a loved one passes? Taking care of and letting go may not be easy.  What is the impact loss can have on our lives? How do we care for ourselves while they are sick, especially if we are the caregivers? What are the steps to healing, if any? How do we move on? Can normalcy occur? Is there a way to honor and remember them after they are gone?

“Family caregivers are grieving people caring for loved ones.” (Brunner-Routledge, p. 182) Caregivers range from loved ones caring for the ill to those caring for the grieving. Everyday activities are such as “shopping, cooking, cleaning, running errands, listening, adjusting TV, reading, making family arrangements” (Brunner-Routledge, p. 182) and coordinating community resources. In addition, “administering medication, providing a massages and assisting with bathing” (Brunner-Routledge, p. 182). are all part of the support system a care giver provides for the grieving and ill persons in need. They are there to honor the individual, their illness and needs.

These caregivers may be in grief themselves. As they care for their loved ones, “they are subject to their own feelings of grief and loss, are coping with physical, mental fatigue and often feeling overwhelmed” (Brunner-Routledge, p. 182). They often experience a “thousand deaths … before the actual death” (Brunner-Routledge,  p. 182). It is easy for them to feel taken for granted. In addition to the grief they are often trying to address issues such as: “depression, living a life outside the norm, relinquishing their own dreams” (Brunner-Routledge, p. 182) and perhaps being responsible for financial, legal, hospital and medical matters.

Many people have had loss of some kind in their life. “In fact, most individuals experience ONE traumatic or life threatening event in their life”. (Bonanne, G. 2004)

However, in addition to those who have had more than one traumatic even some have had numerous losses, tragic losses and losses that occur one right after another. These types of losses can lead to what is known as complicated grief.

            “The process of grief is unique to each individual who experiences it. The moment you being to grieve for a loved one may depend on many different circumstances, such as whether the death was sudden and unexpected or whether it occurred after a             prolonged terminal illness”(Life Care Inc. 2001).


Loss as it relates to long term illness differs from sudden death in that the loved ones often have had a chance to say goodbye. Discussing unresolved feelings and saying goodbyes help to ease the pain thru the grieving process. Often times the grieving process beings before death.  Part of losing a loved one includes the loss of expectations and dreams. Lost expectations and dreams can be felt during everyday life situations. Such as seeing a closet full of clothes left behind. Smelling the familiar scent your loved one used to wear. Or sharing the favorite meal your loved one enjoyed.

After a loss, “review of all hopes, dreams and desires should be expressed and examined during Grief Work.” (Bonanne, G. 2004). “These feelings, sometimes called an anniversary reaction, aren’t necessarily a setback in the grieving process. They’re a reflection that your loved one’s life was important to you”. (MFMER. 2012)

When loss is sudden, it can feel and have the same affects as a major traumatic life event. A traumatic event is defined by Dyer (2005) as … “an experience that causes physical, emotional, psychological distress, or harm,” or “an event, or series of events, that causes moderate to severe stress reactions.” Major traumatic events are characterized by:

“horror, helplessness, serious injury, or the threat of serious injury or death. A traumatic event is perceived and experienced as threat to one’s safety or stability. It may involve experiences, changes or emotions, such as: physical injury or illness, separation from parents (perceived abandonment), death of a friend, family member, or pet, violence of war, terrorism or mass disaster, divorce, loss of trust, a move to a new location, hospitalization, anxiety, fear or pain” (Dyer, 2005).


In addition to the above mentioned characteristics, grief can include the following emotional responses:

  • “Moodiness
  • Impatience or irritability, feeling jumpy
  • Startling with loud noises
  • Changes in appetite—eating too much or not being hungry
  • Problems concentrating
  • Difficulty in school
  • Wanting to be alone more often than usual, or not wanting to be alone at all
  • Re-experiencing the trauma—in daymares, nightmares or flashbacks
  • Increased use of alcohol/drugs to cope with traumatic event, impairing recovery
  • Tearful at unexpected moments, crying more easily or wanting to cry all the time
  • Avoidance of situations that remind the survivor of trauma—places, time of day
  • Negative view of the world
  • Difficulty sleeping, nightmares
  • Loss of interest in previous activities
  • Plans for the future no longer matter” (Dyer.  2005).

Common physical responses to loss include physical reactions such as “nausea, diarrhea, stomachache, headache, dizziness, rapid heart rate, lightheadedness, allergies, rashes, grinding of teeth, increased colds and flu-like symptoms” (Dyer. 2005).

Understanding the normal responses following a traumatic event can help survivors realize that certain responses may be expected. It helps survivors to know that they are not “losing it” or “going crazy” (Dyer. 2005). What they are experiencing, are normal responses to abnormal events. Survivors need to take care of themselves. The normal responses they are experiencing and feelings are their body’s way of coping with a major life-altering event. “This can help make the physical and emotional responses less disturbing and overwhelming” (Dyer. 2005).

“Recent studies have shown that 30% of widows experienced PTSD like symptoms one month after the death of their spouse” (Joseph. 2012). This tells us how important it is that the grieved seek healing. Getting involved with a support group, surrounding yourself with friends and family really help to ease the emotional pain of loss. Words from the heart of friends and family around you in support cannot be wrong.

Grieving has a process. This process can be identified by those around the grieving and may help others understand where the grieving person is in the process. That their actions, works and reactions are possibly part of a process they are going through. There are 5 Stages of this grieving process. They can lead to the path of healing. They are listed below with an example of what each may sound like. 

  1.       Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
  2.       Anger:Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
  3.       Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
  4.       Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
  5.       Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened” (Smith and Segal. 2012).

                 Each of the five stages varies in length according to each person suffering loss. Some people move through each stage with relative ease, while others take a long time to process and get through.

There are two suggested ways to look at the process or stages of grief. They include resilience and recovery. They are key to healing from loss and can be learned.

Resilience refers to the ability to cope with adversity and adapt to challenges or change. It reflects the ability to maintain a stable equilibrium. In developmental literature;

“resilience is typically discussed in terms of protective factors that foster development

of positive outcomes and healthy personality characteristics among children exposed to

unfavorable or aversive life circumstances. Adults who maintain relative stability

(physical and psychological) despite potential highly disruptive events such as death or a

life threatening event.” (Bonanne, G. 2004. p. 1).


The following table outlines the characteristics of Individual Resilience (per SAMHSA).



Demonstrating Resilience

Vulnerability Factors   Inhibiting Resilience

Protective Factors   Enhancing Resilience

Facilitators of Resilience

Individual Resilience

The ability for an individual to cope with adversity   and change










 Poor social skills

 Poor problem  solving

 Lack of empathy

 Family violence

 Abuse or neglect

 Divorce or  partner breakup

 Death or loss

 Lack of social  support

Social competence

Problem-solving skills

Good coping skills


Secure or stable family

Supportive relationships

Intellectual abilities


Communication skills












Faith Community


The second process is recovery. The recovery phase refers to “trajectory in which normal functioning temporarily gives way to threshold or sub threshold psychopathology (PTSD, depression) usually for a period of at least several months, then gradually returns to pre-event levels” (Bonanne. 2004. p. 1). Recovery may be relatively easy and quick or may take as long as one or two years.

Becoming resilient is something that can be developed. “Charney recommends developing resilience by training regularly in areas that engage emotions, intellect, morals, and physical endurance and by overcoming challenges” (Charney. 2007). He believes this affects what type of adults, young people in particular, develop into and suggests that it be part of high-school health education.

“Bereavement is choiceless, but grieving is not.” (Brunner-Routledge, p. 182)

The road to recovery and resilience may, at times, feel impossible. There is hope. The following list suggests in detail, specifics that may make the process of healing from grief and building resilience, leading to recovery easier to navigate.

  • “Turn to friends and family members lean on the people who care about you, even if you take pride in being strong and self-sufficient. Draw loved ones close, rather than avoiding them, and accept the assistance that’s offered. Oftentimes, people want to help but don’t know how, so tell them what you need – whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or help with funeral arrangements.
  • Draw comfort from your faith – If you follow a religious tradition, embrace the comfort its mourning rituals can provide. Spiritual activities that are meaningful to you – such as praying, meditating, or going to church – can offer solace. If you’re questioning your faith in the wake of the loss, talk to a clergy member or others in your religious community.                           
  • Join a support group – Grief can feel very lonely. Sharing your sorrow with others who have experienced similar losses can help. To find a bereavement support group in your area, contact local hospitals, hospices, funeral homes, and counseling centers.
  • Talk to a therapist or grief counselor – If your grief feels like too much to bear, call a mental health professional with experience in grief counseling. An experienced therapist can help you work through intense emotions and overcome obstacles to your grieving.
  • Face your feelings. You can try to suppress your grief, but you can’t avoid it forever. In order to heal, you have to acknowledge the pain. Trying to avoid feelings of sadness and loss only prolongs the grieving process. Unresolved grief can also lead to complications such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems.
  • Express your feelings in a tangible or creative way. Write about your loss in a journal. If you’ve lost a loved one, write a letter saying the things you never got to say; make a scrapbook or photo album celebrating the person’s life; or get involved in a cause or organization that was important to him or her.
  • Look after your physical health. The mind and body are connected. When you feel good physically, you’ll also feel better emotionally. Combat stress and fatigue by getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising. Don’t use alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of grief or lift your mood artificially.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry, to yell at the heavens, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh, to find moments of joy, and to let go when you’re ready.
  • Plan ahead for grief “triggers.” Anniversaries, holidays, and milestones can reawaken memories and feelings. Be prepared for an emotional wallop, and know that it’s completely normal. If you’re sharing a holiday or lifecycle event with other relatives, talk to them ahead of time about their expectations and agree on strategies to honor the person you loved” (SAMHSA).

 “the weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”

(Mahatma Gandhi) retrieved from (APA. 2008).

It is important to mention that many people, when in the Anger stage of the grieving process, find that forgiveness aids in healing. Forgiving self, the loved one lost in some cases, lost plans, dreams and sometimes even God, helps to move forward and let go of current feelings of loss and anger. Forgiveness is a powerful act in the healing and recovery process.                        

            Eventually, once recovering, most people begin to develop ways to remember their loved one. They often find that it gives them comfort to keep him or her with them mentally and spiritually. The ways in which remembrance is developed them may vary greatly according to religious and cultural beliefs. Some examples of building remembrance and keeping them alive are, talking to the lost loved one mentally. Or “new rituals that commemorate your loved one … (may be developed such as) lighting a candle … saying a prayer, planting a garden, donating money to a charity or visiting the cemetery” (Life Care Inc. 2001).

Many people choose to celebrate important dates like, birth, death and anniversary dates regarding their lost loved one. Whether alone or with others, some tips can be helpful to handle these times. “Be honest about how you feel and want to spend the day” (Life Care Inc. 2001). Don’t be afraid to let others know if you feel comfortable spending time together or alone.  Make changes to special days if you feel necessary. “ If traditional get togethers feel like too much pressure, try celebrating in a different way,” (Life Care Inc. 2001) such as the night before or the morning after.  “Consider helping others who may be in need” (Life Care Inc. 2001). Volunteering, inviting someone else who is alone to celebrate with you, or visiting the elderly can help relieve some of the loss and allow you to focus outside of your situation. “Donate money in memory of your loved one” (Life Care Inc. 2001). Remember your loved one by including them in a “special prayer, read a poem or reminisce about them with other loved ones. Looking through photo albums or creating scrapbooks” (Life Care Inc. 2001) can all be great ways to keep their memory alive.  “Be positive. Being grateful for what you do have, helps to remind us that we are allowed to experience joy, happiness and love. It is not disrespectful to the lost loved one to feel good or happy” (Life Care Inc. 2001).  Life is precious and it is healthy to recognize that there are lessons learned in losing a loved one and we are to grow from the process of grief.

Illness, and loss are often unexpected, sometimes sudden and overwhelming. In some cases, there are no outwardly visible signs of physical injury and grief, but there is nonetheless a serious emotional toll. It is common for people who have experienced these types of traumatic situations and losses to have very strong emotional reactions. “Understanding normal responses to these abnormal events can aid you in coping effectively with your feelings, thoughts and behaviors, and help you along the path to recovery.” (APA. 2012)

Healing during and after loss, can occur. With proper care, it is possible to grieve, build resilience through the stages and process of grieving and recover from the loss. Healing allows the grieved to live a normal, healthy life after loss. It may take effort, it may take breaking out of your comfort zone. It may take opening up and sharing vulnerabilities that we are not used to. However, healing and moving on can occur, allowing the grieved to live happy fulfilling lives.


References and resources

American Psychological Association. (2012). Managing Traumatic Stress: Tips for Recovering  from Disaster and Other Traumatic Events. Retrieved from

American Psychological Association, (2008). Forgiveness, A Sample of Research Results. Office of International Affairs. (visit and

Bonanne, G. (2004).  Loss, Trauma and Human Resilience. Have We Underestimated the

Human Capacity to Thrive After Extremely Adversive Events?American Psychologist

Association.  Vol. 59 No. 1 20-28, DOI:10.1037/0003-006X.59.1.20. Retrieved from

Brunner-Routledge and Jeffreys, J. (2005). Helping Grieving People: When Tears Are Not

Enough: A Handbook For Care Providers.

Charney, Dennis. ( 2007). People Can Learn Markers on Road to Resilience. Vol. 42 No. 2,  pgs.5-5. Retrieved from

Dyer, Kirsti. (2005) Vol. 2. No.2. Medical Wellness Archives. Living Through and Surviving

Traumatic Events. Retrieved from

Joseph, S. PhD. (2012). What Doesn’t Kill Us. Bereavement Can Be Traumatic. Psychology

Today. Retrieved from:

Life Care Inc. (2001). “A Life Care Guide to Grief and Bereavement” Retrieved from

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). (2012). Grief:

            Coping with reminders after a Loss. “Grief doesn’t magically end at a certain point after a loved one’s death. Reminders often bring back the pain of loss. Here’s help coping- and healing. Retrieved from

Naperstek, B. (2011). A Meditation to Ease Grief: Health Journeys. Resources for Mind Body and Spirit. A Guided Imagery CD.

Resilience and Stress Management Resources Collection, Resilience. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Retrieved from

Smith, M. and Segal, J. PhD. (2012). Coping with Grief and Loss, “Understanding the Grieving Process,” Retrieved from

Pillow talking blog

Nothing, nonsense, common sense.

Just when you think you can’t. Someone comes by and pays a complement.

We don’t always know who, what, where and when.

Our words and actions have influence.


Volunteering makes people Happy










Happiness of Giving:

The Intrinsic Value of Giving and Volunteering on the Quality of Life

Michelle R. Wallpe

Ball State University

EDAC 646

March 17, 2012
















Happiness of Giving:

The intrinsic value of giving and volunteering on the quality of life

HAPPINESS. Can volunteering make people happy?

In this time of uncertainty. Of job loss. Investment and retirement loss. The economy, and the earth being hit by severe disaster. Does happiness still exist?

If so, how is it measured and achieved? Theories exist regarding the benefits of volunteering. One is that volunteering makes one feel better, giving people a kind of ‘happiness’ factor.  Another theory is that volunteering helps people stay connected and part of a bigger picture. Whether volunteering in the community or because of a particular cause or purpose. Volunteering speculatively extends people’s lives. Volunteering improves physical health. It allows people to spend time instead of money. Makes people HAPPY by focusing on the positive in life. And strengthens faith by allowing an outlet for people to express and share spiritually. Getting involved seems to only have benefits, not consequences. So, is there evidence that there really is Happiness in Giving?  Where do these theories come from? This paper attempts to answer just that. Here are the findings.

“The happy man is not he who seems thus to others, but who seems thus to himself.”

– Publilius Syrus. (Lyubomirsky, p. 15)


The subjective definition of happiness, as defined by Lyubomirsky:

“individuals who perceive themselves as happy also think well of themselves, are

optimistic about their futures, experience a predominance of positive emotions, and are

extraverted. In addition, happy individuals did not appear to be inclined towards

depression or neuroticism.” (p. 16)


“the ultimate judge of happiness should be: whoever lives inside a person’s skin. The

perception of whether one has had a “happy life” arguably, is powerfully driven by

cultural expectations. For example, in the US, a happy life is said to consist of good

health, a good marriage, raising children, having a satisfying career, and owning a home,

preferably with a dog and a “white picket fence.” Although a life characterized by these

things might be “happy,” its protagonist might not.” (p. 16)

Their subjective assessment was derived from asking four (4) simple questions ranging in happiness from 1 to 7. The test takers were asked if they felt happy, were happy compared to their peers, were depressed and if they were happy most of the time. Their simple and short subjective test turned out to be very effective, accepted and well understood.

Dr Albert Schweitzer, coined the medical missionary by colleagues, defines happiness as: “The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” (Brown, 2007, p. 1) Suggesting that the only way to happiness is by giving and volunteering, servicing others. “We might extend this to include altruistic service of some kind as an essential element of becoming truly healthy.” (Brown, 2007, p. 1) Being healthy in this context, suggests a positive attitude, which is an attitude of giving, a healthy body, healthy mind and therefore a happy life.

As defined by a Happiness Study, or “The Happiness-enhancing Activities and Positive Practices Inventory (HAPPI).” (Henricksen and Stephens, 2012, p. 1) HAPPI, comprises 22-items that assess the importance and engagement of various happiness-enhancing activities. Items were designed to assess activities in six categories:

  • “‘Other–focused’ (speaking to or doing something with family, speaking to or doing something with good friends, spending quality time with your partner,

meeting with others who share something in common, spending time helping others)

  • ‘Personal recreation and interests’ (spending time on hobbies or interests, spending quality time alone doing your own thing, doing something you find

amusing, going on trips, going on outings, spending time with a pet/animal,

exercising or doing some other form of physical activity)

  • ‘Thoughts and attitudes’ (counting your blessings, framing things in a more positive light)
  • ‘Achievement’ (working on something you get a sense of achievement from,

doing something you find mentally challenging, devoting effort to a work goal,

working towards achieving a property goal, devoting time to an important personal goal)

  • ‘Spiritual’ (spiritual activities e.g., praying, meditating, worshipping)
  • ‘Self-concordant work’ (doing something that uses your particular strengths and skills, working in a role that you enjoy).” (Henricksen and Stephens, 2012, p. 7)


Self-concordant work, personal recreation and people subscales, and the other subjective

well-being measures, demonstrated the strongest relationships with happiness. Thus, providing support for the suggestion that certain activities may be better than others in relation to their influence on happiness levels. The HAPPI study, also found that “social affiliation was one of the most robust predictors of happiness.” (Henricksen and Stephens, 2012, p.14)

Eisenberger’s findings note that giving increases the well being of both the giver and recipient. Stating; “data highlight(s) the uniquely beneficial properties of support giving and suggest that supportive exchanges may increase the well-being not only of the receiver but of the giver as well” (p. 5) when discussing the healing power of touch to patience and their loved ones.

When a team of social psychologists, wanted to spur policy makers to promote philanthropy, they gave students envelopes containing either $5 or $20 and told them how to spend it. Those who spent the money on others, “donating to charity or giving a gift, were happier at the end of the day, than those who blew it on themselves, to pay a bill or indulge in a treat.” (Youngsteadt, 2008, p.1)  The psychologist proved that philanthropy equals happiness, making “for a more “altruistic–and happier—population.” (Youngsteadt, 2008, p.1)

So, how much control then, do we have over our own happiness? If giving makes us happy, then by simply making the choice to give, leads to positive action (giving), making us happier? The first step is to choose, says a mother who just lost her son. She is quoted, saying “It’s easier to forget your own loss when you are busy helping others” (Brown, 2007, p. 1). She began a volunteer ambulance service and became an EMT, that allowed her to focus on what she had control over, while grieving. And wanted to make a difference so that other parents would not have to experience the pain she did after her son’s death. She chose to focus on what made her happiest after her loss and found that in turn she was able to make others happy too. “Medical scientists are beginning to discover what this woman already knows: that there is healing power in helping others” (Brown, 2007, p. 1).

In  Oakland, CA, an experimental social science study (Neimark, 2007), has been conducted over the last almost 100 years on at least 200 people. It’s one of the largest and longest running studies of its kind. When they started the study, which consists mostly of interviews, they were trying to simply see what makes a happy life. So what’s the key to generativity, or guiding and establishing happiness in the next generation? Wink, the psychologist, overseeing Neimarks study, explains:

“Generativity can’t exist unless you have the sense that you can make a difference. We’ve found that empathy and warmth are important, so that you can feel the suffering of others. And it’s equally important to have a desire to give and help. But what leads the way is a healthy sense of self that allows you to mobilize and act productively upon the world.” (p. 1)


A healthy sense of self? A self one can be proud of? One that is mobile and

productive. Is that one that can give while seeing the results of ones giving? To be proud and give of self. That equals happiness? Is that all?

Doctors from Harvard University, in another study, showed students a video of Mother Teresa. They measured antibodies in the students before and after the video and found that “merely watching (the) film on selfless service strengthened the immune response in the students” (Brown, 2007, p. 1). The article goes on to talk about the mind body connection and how giving through service and volunteering is just one way to help stay healthy. So, giving can make people mentally as well as physically healthy AND happy?

Modern medicine, they say, has known for years that there is a connection between mind and body. The problem has been in communicating that connection to others and training ourselves to live out our manifestations. Their theories go so far as to state that we have control over our health (through our minds). In fact, they have noticed a trend in cancer patients. They noticed that most of the patients with cancer have had past traumatic experiences in their lives, creating a pattern and relationship between past trauma and cancer. Thus, thru out the rest of this paper, examples will start to make sense of the importance of giving. How giving leads to mental and physical health and happiness. How, through giving, we each have control over our happiness outcome in life. According to Brown’s (2007) article:

 “The power of the mind to influence the body is beyond question; a negative mental attitude can threaten one’s health, and a positive mental attitude will trigger changes within the body that promote health and healing. Thus, while research shows that social isolation is a major health risk factor, it also shows that people who do volunteer work are much less likely to suffer illness. The close interpersonal relationships and community involvement that occur with volunteer service are tailor-made to enhance the healing process.”(p.1)  


            A number of recent studies have been conducted that indicate there are even more physical benefits of volunteering. Some of these studies “use mortality as the outcome variable – they permit the conclusion that volunteering is causing good health.” (Musick and Wilson, 1999, p.10).  Prior to this theory, it was understood that only healthy people volunteer. They examined the effect of volunteering on the onset of serious illness and functional disability. They found that women who volunteer on an intermittent basis, scored higher on functional ability than those who had not.

The emotional effects of giving, stated above are outlined again in another study between giving of time versus the donating of money. Wendy and Jennifer, ask for time instead of monetary donations when fundraising for their cause. Their findings state that:

“answering a question about one’s intention to volunteer time makes salient the

emotional significance of the event, whereby people view charity as a means

toward happiness. This mind-set in turn leads to a more positive inclination toward giving to charity and hence an increase in actual contributions.” (p. 3)


“Further, time and money differ in their value (whereby the value of time is more

ambiguous than one’s value of money), leading to more flexible justifications of expenditures of time than money (Okada and Hoch 2004). Time and money also differ in their perceived appropriateness as resources for donation. For instance, people prefer to donate time (over money) to charities when their self is highly invested in a cause.” (p.3)


“An influential body of research shows that asking people questions about their intentions for an action can dramatically change the likelihood that people will later perform the action (e.g., Morwitz et al. 1993; Schwarz 1999; Sherman 1980; Sprott et al. 2006). For example, consumers who received (vs. did not receive) a survey asking them about their automobile purchase intentions were more likely to purchase a new automobile in the subsequent 6 months.” (p.3)


“thinking about time activates goals of emotional well-being and beliefs involving

personal happiness. In contrast, thinking about money suppresses such emotional goals and instead activates goals of economic utility and beliefs about attainment of such goals. These two mind-sets align with those described by bimodal models of cognitive function (emotional vs. rational), empathy states (“hot” vs. “cold;”), and modes of decision making (guided by heart vs. mind). These mind-sets shift over time and across individuals and situations. For example, as people age, they increasingly adopt a more emotional mind-set and are guided by socio-emotional goals (e.g., positive social interactions), whereas younger adults tend to be guided by more cognitive-based goals.” (p.4)


The idea that the consideration of time, particularly how to spend one’s time, may

activate an emotional mind-set, born from three sets of findings.

First, time involves, an experience. “Both real and imagined, experiences are accompanied by feelings and emotions” (Schwarz and Clore 1996). “Thus, thoughts of spending time doing an activity naturally evoke feelings and often increase the motivation to attain positive emotions” (“How do I feel about it?”). “Second, recent research suggests that experiences (spending time doing an activity) are more directly associated with feeling happy than are nonexperiential material acquisitions.” “That is, an experience, such as going to a show, creates greater happiness than does consuming a material product of similar economic value. Third, emerging research suggests that the salience of the concept of time in life can directly activate goals of emotional meaning.”(p. 4)


“In contrast, the consideration of how one might spend money should activate a very different type of goal. Money, as the most common form of currency for economic exchange, puts a quantifiable value to purchases and consumption. Consequently, thinking about money (relative to time) is likely to evoke a value-maximizing, prompting people to think about value in a nonambiguous manner. Indeed, when people invest money rather than time in a purchase, they demand unambiguous satisfaction from the consumption.” (p. 4)


“In contrast, when time is invested, people are able to flexibly determine whether the consumption was worth the time. Thus, money appears to activate a mind-set that focuses on maximal, quantifiable utility.” (p. 4)


“We argue that these distinct mind-sets are likely to cause the act of giving to be viewed in different lights. With an emotional mind-set, the person is more likely to see the implications of charitable giving in terms of its emotional meaning, that is, how giving is related to positive emotions and personal happiness.” (p.4)


According to a study conducted by law students at Duke University, “Volunteering is believed to foster interpersonal trust, toleration and empathy for others, and respect for the common good.” (Musick and Wilson, 1999, p. 8)  This, in turn, makes volunteers, people who are less likely to engage in socially destructive or pathological behavior, suggesting that if more people volunteer, there is less likelihood of people preying on other people and less vandalism. In fact they also found through their study that, students who had undertaken volunteer work, were less likely to have risky behavior such as skipping school and using drugs. “Involvement in social clubs had no effect on such risky behavior, while participation in team sports actually increased the likelihood.” (Musick and Wilson, 1999, p. 8) Proving that focusing on giving to someone else or a greater cause, made people happy and having less cause for engaging in risky behavior.

Is there a specific type of volunteer work that produces more ‘happiness’ than another? According to Borgonovi, evidence supports that religious based volunteer work is very ‘happy’.


“Our results suggest that volunteer labor is positively correlated with both indicators of well-being. We concentrate on formal volunteering for religious groups and organizations and employ a second stage least squares regression framework to address reverse causation, self-selection and omitted variable bias. Results indicate that religious volunteering has a substantial, causal effect on happiness but not on health. We review the literature investigating the causes of well-being premiums among volunteers and hypothesize that volunteering might increase happiness by reducing people’s concerns for status.” (p. 12)


Dr. Maureen Anderson, in her seminar series on Marriage, talks about how focusing on the positive can change your brains chemistry (or your physical and mental health). Dr. Maureen is a pastor at one of the largest Christian churches in Mesa, AZ. I have had the privilege to attend her seminar. In this series, she is referring to times when spouses fight and suggests that even in a fight, if you remember and focus on the positive qualities your spouse possesses, you will not stay mad for long. She also uses this theory to remind Christians that in 90 days, while focusing their minds and action only on the positive aspects of life (people, spouse, outcomes, community involvement, giving and situations) their brain chemistry can be permanently changed and they will start to act, think and be more positive.

The Neimark article and Wink study mentioned earlier, outlines another finding. Suggesting that there is a connection between giving and faith, completing the cycle of the happiness of giving.

“Generativity is also linked to faith—both organized religion and a kind of autonomous

spirituality that may take diverse forms. (The study) compared the impact of traditional religion and a more eclectic, diffuse spirituality that might encompass meditation, Eastern religion and shamanism. Both score equally well for instilling generativity in people, but more traditionally religious individuals see altruism and giving as the natural outpouring of their faith, while for more eclectic spiritual seekers, generativity includes a desire to effect others or to pass on worthwhile skills and knowledge.” (Neimark, 2007, p.1)


A poignant quote from Tom, a Happiness blogger, with Let U B U, is quoted as saying:

“Give, accept, reciprocate. The gift must always move.” (p. 1)

Which illustrates the simplicity of the concept of giving. At the same time, it is effective for both the giver and recipient. That receiving is just as important as giving. That giving is something that should stay in motion.

            Based on the numerous studies and research findings presented, it appears that there is more than enough evidence that volunteering leads to happiness. That giving and volunteering connects people to a larger picture, within the community. With this knowledge and understanding of giving and volunteering as the vehicle to a more enriched life, communities and non-profits might want to begin advertising in a different way. Stating the happiness benefits of volunteering to their community members. It might be good for communities and organizations to begin reaching out to those who are unemployed, underserved or unrepresented. Opportunities for volunteer help may pop up in unexpected ways due to targeting a different audience. Not that the current audience should become null or void but it may open additional opportunities for new organizations, volunteer roles and interactions among volunteers.

Volunteering is recommended in all communities and stages of life to foster, faith, a positive lifestyle, extending one’s life, improving physical and mental health. People even seem happier when giving of their time, instead of giving money to a cause. It also seems as though people actively seek out ways to give and volunteer as they grow older. The research has shown that as we age, mortality becomes more ‘real’ and we seek more ways to make a difference, leave a mark on society and give so that we feel part of a bigger picture. If you want to live more purposefully, happily and connect with the bigger picture and purpose, find a way to give and start volunteering in your community. Start painting a different life picture. – A happier picture!







Anderson, Dr. M. (2012). Solutions in the Low Times. Marriage Seminar: How to have a

Champion Marriage by Song of Solomon. Lesson 6.

Brown, E. V. (2007). The healing power of service. Self, The Online Self

Improvement Community. Retrieved from

Borgonovi, F. (2008). Doing well by doing good. The relationship between formal volunteering and self-reported health and happiness. The London School of Economics, Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion. DOI:

Henricksen, A. and S. Christine (2012). The Happiness-Enhancing Activities and Positive

            Practices Inventory (HAPPI): Development and Validation. Journal of Happiness

            Studies. doi: 10.1007/s10902-011-9317-z

Inagaki, T. K. and Eisenberger, N. I. Neural Correlates of Giving Support to a Loved One. Psychosomatic Medicine, 2011; DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3182359335

Liu, W., & Aaker, J. (2008). The happiness of giving: The time-ask effect. Journal of Consumer

            Research, 35(3), 543-557.

Lyubomirsky, S. and Lepper, H. S. (1997). A Measure of Subjective Happiness: Preliminary

Reliability and Construct Validation Social Indicators Research. Department of Psychology, University of California Riverside.

Musick, M. and Wilson, J. (1999). The effects of volunteering on the volunteer. Duke Law:

            Law and Contemporary Problems. Retrieved from n+1999

[m1] Neimark, J. (2007). Giving makes us Happy. Retrieved from


Tom (2011). New Research Suggests: Find Happiness by Giving. Let U Be U. Retrieved from


Youngsteadt, E. (2008). The Secret to Happiness? Giving. Science. Retrieved from




 [m1]Should the reference look like this?:  62 Law & Contemp. Probs. 141 (Autumn 1999). With no ‘retrieved from, hyperlink?’

Choosing a Life Coach

Choosing a Life Coach.

Choosing a Life Coach

As a life coach, people surprise me every day.

One very surprising event I recently experienced was from another coach. She is well known in the area. Her practices were very bold and precise. After poking around, asking questions about her, her background and where her philosophies stem from. I was scared to find out that her sources were cultish.

Her way of coaching left me feeling disconnected from a source of great strength. A founding source I have leaned on for many years. This scared state made me think about the type of coach I am and want to be in the future. It made me question what makes a good coach? What should clients look for when seeking a coach? What questions should you ask? Are their warning signs?

So, I did some research, as I am always doing, so as to inform others about choosing a coach that is right for them. The link at the end of this article outlines some additional great points about the things a good coach should possess.

Remember, a coach is someone whom you are entrusting your personal self with. So make sure you are comfortable with them and confident in their abilities.

Some additional tips include:

  • Be sure to ask about the coach’s belief system (if that is something important to you). You want to be sure they are guiding you in the right direction. A positive direction. A direction for YOU!
  • Listen to your gut. If it does not feel right, it probably isn’t.
  • Avoid the robots. Coach’s who seem too rehearsed or programmed, probably are. There are many programs and schools of thought when it comes to coaching. Some are cultish so be careful.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask about their training and or credentials.
  • Understand that coaching should be a bit ‘organic’. Like the article states: each meeting will present itself with its own set of challenges and opportunities for you. Expect changes and allow for the needed growth to occur naturally and ‘organically’ as needed.
  • Don’t be afraid to say NO, or get further information if needed before getting started.

Look, the bottom line in choosing a good coach is this: Your coach is someone you should trust. Someone you can rely on and open up to. Take the necessary steps to ensure yourself that you have a good one.

LOVE is a business card

While browsing a discount store today, I uncovered something VERY cool. In the ladies room, as I was washing my hands, I noticed some green business cards. They caught my eye with the word LOVE at the top in bold, pink letters. I had to pick it up and see what they were all about. On this little green glossy card, was a very cool and inspiring message.

It read: LOVE Is … caring, trusting, secure, accepting … IS NOT … Controlling what you do, who you see or where you go, stopping you from seeing your friends and family. Shoving, slapping, choking, hitting, intimidating or threatening you with weapons. Then, on the back it read: Tips For Staying Safe: – Tell a trusted friend, coworker or neighbor about your situation. – Hide a bag at a neighbor or friend’s housse with keys, identificatin, money and copies of important documents. – Have a phone accessible at all times and know which numbers to call for help.

The card was created by the National Domestic Violence HOTLINE with 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). They offer anonymous and confidential help 24/7 and have a website at

The discount store was TJ Max. Thanks TJ Max and the National Domestic Violence HOTLINE for working together and caring enough to put these GREAT cards in restrooms for other women to share. I hope they help someone!!!