Increasing Happiness through Cultivating Kindness

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Do you have a genuine desire to help others and improve the world around you? Research tells us that people who demonstrate kindness through acts of altruism or volunteering on a consistent basis generally experience a higher life-satisfaction and even show fewer depressive symptoms. Whether you get involved through an organization or club as a volunteer, or simply reach out to a co-worker or friend who is struggling or lonely, caring and compassion has multiple benefits.

Certainly, our motive in volunteering is not just to make ourselves happy, but a sense of satisfaction and contentment is a welcomed outcome. Typically those who are required to volunteer (for a school assignment, college application, etc.) do not feel the same sort of satisfaction as those who are intrinsically motivated. A sincere desire to help others is one of the keys to experiencing a sense of contentment and well-being.

It’s difficult to give love if we don’t feel loved. Demonstrating a true compassion and love begins in our heart, when we recognize our own brokenness and need for redemption. When we know and receive God’s love, we are better able to pour out that grace-filled love toward others. John (the beloved disciple) put it this way, “We love because He first loved us.” As we draw close to Him and embrace His love, we can allow that love to overflow into a life of care and service.

Additionally, studies show that the recipients of acts of kindness who are encouraged to participate or cooperate in some way experience a greater level of happiness than those who simply receive the benefits with no participation. I found this research particularly interesting, since the parenting outreach I started several years ago invites parents to participate in the classes and empowers them to discover their own solutions, instead of simply being told what to do.  And yes I’d love for you to consider joining our team of volunteers at Engage Positive Parenting Initiative! For more information go to www.EngageParenting.com

So where do we begin? Prayerfully ask God to lead and guide you to a place where your gifts and talents can be used to help others. He has equipped each one of us with unique abilities to care and serve. The apostle John reminded us, “Let us not simply love in words or in speech, but in actions and in truth.” May we be faithful to step out of our comfort zone and into the lives of those who could use a helping heart.

Paper bag Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

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Next week is Volunteer Appreciation Week. It’s the perfect time to join the team at Engage Parenting! Find out how at: Engage Parenting Volunteers

True Positive: Day 16 – Helping Others

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Feeling blue? Consider doing something kind for someone else. It may be volunteering at a hospital or a dog shelter or at a local school. You could write a letter to someone who needs encouragement or cook a meal for someone who could use some help or even bring groceries to someone who can’t get out right now. When we reach out to help others, thinking of their needs, it gets our mind off of our own stuff and actually gives us a feeling of joy. Although our motivation for doing things for others shouldn’t be to please ourselves, it is a natural consequence and an added blessing.

A team of sociologist tracked a group of 2000 people over a 5-year period and discovered that those who described themselves as “very happy” also volunteered at least 5.8 hours per month.  Of course, there could be a number of reasons for this, but researchers believe that showing compassion gives people a neurochemical sense of reward as an emotional boost. For more benefits to helping others click here. Jesus spoke about showing kindness and love even to our enemies. He said, “Give and it will be given back to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, it will be poured into your lap.”

Take one step today to reach out in kindness to another person.

Photo by Madi Robson on Unsplash

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If given the opportunity to choose our path in life, most of us would pick the easier road with less bumps, pot holes and challenges. I know I would. Simply put, few of us would deliberately choose a difficult journey in life, one riddled with heart ache, pain and loss. Yet in a way, if we choose to be compassionate people, we are choosing to join into someone else’s pain. The word compassion actually means “with suffering.” The root word passion comes from the Latin word “suffering.” If we want to be compassionate people, then in a way, we are inviting suffering into our lives – the suffering of another person. How far are we willing to go to reach out and touch the life of someone else?

Recently I heard the results of a study by the Cato Institute stating, “Poverty is perpetuated through poor parenting.” That statement stuck with me. I must admit, my heart grieves for “at risk” kids who have little hope of breaking through the cycle of poverty. As I began thinking about what I could do to make a difference, My mind was flooded with the  thought, “Karol, you go all over the nation teaching men and women how to be positive parents, why aren’t you going to the impoverished communities in your own city?”

That prompting led me to write a discussion-style curriculum for parents. The lessons enable moms and dads to recognize their responsibilities in raising their families, and guide them to positive action steps. With the concept in place, my next step was to figure out where to implement this unique parenting class. I didn’t know where to go, so I prayed and asked the Lord to show me. Funny thing, I opened up the newspaper and saw an article about Buckner Children and Family Services of North Texas. Buckner has an outreach program in one of the housing developments in Dallas. With a little bit of fear and trembling, I emailed them and asked if they were interested in parenting classes.

They said yes! Oh my, now I had to take a step of faith and step out of my comfort zone and into the lives of men and women that I had never met. I knew that I didn’t understand what their lives were like, but God did.  So I prayed for God to love through me and make this a fruitful and meaningful time together with the parents. He answered that prayer! Since our start 4 years ago, God has done an amazing work and has allowed me to build bridges through loving relationships with the parents in the community. I call the program ENGAGE Positive Parenting Initiative, and we have trained over 60 volunteers and have touched lives in 12 different locations around Dallas and Fort Worth.

It’s time to build back the strength of the family in communities across the nation. I feel like a woman on a mission! Where is God calling you to take a step of faith and step out of your comfort zone?

If you would like to join in our mission through volunteering or praying, we invite you to join us:

www.EngageParenting.com

We are participating in North Texas Giving Day on Sept 22. Here is the link and be sure to choose Engage Parenting in the Organization box. http://womensnpa.wpengine.com/donate/north-texas-giving-day/

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