Advent Calendar – Dec 5th: Feeling Good

I have been unbelievably blessed all my life and I give thanks everyday for my good fortune. I try so hard not to take anything for granted and treasure my family and our good health, and my precious friends.

I am aware that one’s good fortune can change in an instant, and that many experience hardships because of an event in their lives. Because of this, I try to give back to my community whenever I see an opportunity to give back. Of course, even when I am motivated and inspired to act when I see a need, I end up not following through, either because its inconvenient, or i don’t have time, or I get distracted. This happens to many of us, especially when there are so many other demands on our time and limited resources.

When I worked, it was so easy to participate in workplace-organized charity campaigns but now that I am retired, my philanthropy is on me. No one will do it for me.

Last week, while watching the morning news, I learned that the local television station was hosting its annual fundraiser for the community food bank and it inspired me to go through my cupboards and pick out some items to contribute to the food drive.

Easy enough, and it occurred to me that my retired girlfriends I was hosting for a festive evening might be willing to join in. I volunteered to take any food donation they would bring to the party along with mine to the food bank the next morning. I really don’t know what came over me, as this was completely out of character for me, but I felt I needed to extend the opportunity to my neighbours in the condo building I live in and invited them to make a contribution in a box I left in the mailroom.

In less than a week, we collected 4 boxes of food items, and this morning, we delivered the boxes to the food drive happening in various locations across the city.

My story today, is not to intended to boast about what I do, but rather, to inspire you. It really doesn’t take much, and it happens just like that. My girlfriends are reading this blog, and I am sure they are getting that warm fuzzy feeling that the act of giving brought us earlier this morning.

I realised on the way back that most of us have it in us to be charitable, and try to give to our community when we can. Its hard when we are still working to find time to volunteer, or organise charitable campaigns or even participate in them, but people do find ways to do it. I admire those people so much. When we retire, we definitely have less demands on our time, and we can help so much more by volunteering our time to help good causes.

A friend of mine volunteers 2 days a week at a Habitat Restore, and another donates a few hours a week at a Pet Rescue center caring for the animals. I know others who visit the elderly in retirement and nursing homes.

These activities not only fill your days, but have been linked to a release of endorphins in your brain that make us feel good. Researchers at the National Institute of Health in the US, found that people who gave money or time to a charity activated pleasure centers in their brain and led to improved endorphin levels. Endorphins are chemicals produced by the body to relieve stress and pain and boost happiness. You also get a healthy boost of endorphins when exercising, doing yoga or meditation, eating spicy foods and dark chocolate. I will take a dose of endorphins from charitable giving anytime – especially if it has no calories!

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