Two years ago, I posted a three-part series of blog entries (starting here) that explored the concept of tithing as it relates to time. I wrote that giving—whether we give money, time, or anything else—leads to feeling prosperous because we have more than we need, which in turn attracts more of whatever we gave. The subconscious mind constantly looks for patterns in daily life that match our expectations; so, when we expect to have plenty of good things, we’re more likely to find them.
Although giving time two years ago didn’t literally cause me to get more time, it did leave me feeling more relaxed about having enough time generally. After a while, I wrote a follow-up post about creative energy and what giving means in that context. Giving away creative works (such as posting uplifting entries on a blog without expecting to earn any money from it) and encouraging other writers and artists can help with feeling more confident and creatively inspired.
This year, I was still wondering just how the concept might apply to health. We all want good health, of course, but how is it possible to give health away, or to feel that we have enough of it to share? Although many people donate to medical charities to improve the public health, I would classify that in the category of giving money.
Giving blood is a direct way of giving health; but not everyone is able to do it, and blood donors can’t give too often because it takes a while to replenish blood. Medical professionals can volunteer at free clinics, and people without medical skills can help by doing small tasks such as scheduling appointments. Again, though, not everyone can do that, and for most people it wouldn’t be something they did often.
Also, medical charities, blood banks, and free clinics are all modern organizations. Surely, I thought, there must always have been something simpler in everyday life. What would our peasant ancestors have done in their little villages if they wanted to share good health?
Once I framed the question in those terms, the answer became obvious. Almost everything we do when interacting with others affects their health in some way, even if it’s as basic as giving a cheerful smile to a person who is feeling down. As social animals, humans depend in large part on good relationships with family and friends to stay healthy. Researchers have done plenty of studies showing that married people and residents of close-knit communities live longer than average and score higher on many tests that measure good health.
So, giving health is easy—all that’s needed is a little time and effort, as we go about our daily activities, to show kindness and appreciation when we have the opportunity. Cultivating that habit not only helps those around us to feel happier and healthier—it also makes us feel more connected, which improves our own health. And I believe our ancestors knew that a long time ago, before modern research confirmed it.