On this weekend of thankfulness, I’ve been thinking recently of the power of pressure – challenges, sorrows, struggles – and their extraordinary power to help us.
As I get older, I have the great benefit of a rearview mirror on my life. And only now can I see that every blockage on the path was there for a reason: to help me to learn, to be a better person, to try harder or aim higher. And each time, the pain offered a hidden gift.
The worst things that happened to me – illness, divorce, financial struggles, great loss – were invariably the best things that happened to me, leading me onto a better path.
But if there was one fast track to that path that I’ve discovered, it can be summed up in one short sentence: Get off of yourself.
As I have discovered in my work with intention groups, as well as my own life, performing an altruistic act, with no expectation of reward, produces more than just a warm and fuzzy feeling; it proves strengthening to both mind and body.
If you’re suffering from some sort of condition, you’re more likely to overcome it once you turn your attention to someone else. That was the conclusion of one study of more than 800 people suffering from severe stress who were followed by University of Buffalo researchers for five years to compare the state of their health with the extent to which they’d helped anyone outside the home, including relatives, friends or neighbors.
That little bit of helping acts like a bulletproof vest. When faced with future stressful situations like illness, financial difficulties, job loss, or death in the family, those who’d helped others during the previous year were far less likely to die than those who hadn’t.
In fact, the contrast between the people who’d helped and those who didn’t could not have been starker. When faced with each new stressful event, those who’d decided not to lend a hand increased their chances of dying by a whopping 30 percent.
The quickest route to rewriting your own life’s script is simply reaching out to someone else. In Harvard research on happiness and fulfilment, one factor that made for the greatest sense of satisfaction and happiness among a sampling of 30,000 Americans all across the country was lending a helping hand.
In fact, those willing to give of their time or money were 42 percent more likely to be happy than those who weren’t.
The key to a long and healthy life is living a life that concerns itself with a meaning beyond satisfying the needs of number one.
I have thought long and hard about how dangerous some tenets of the “self-help” movement might ultimately be. All that focus on the self could ultimately be terrible for your health, and highly unnecessary.
And if that is true, the entire New Age premise of intention—using the universe as essentially a restaurant with you the customer ordering whatever dinner you happen to fancy—is wrong.
Getting what you want in your own life starts with the readiness to give.
And that’s the true power of group intention and the Power of Eight® groups. The secret sauce of the entire enterprise is the giving part of it.
In group healing, most of the time, you’re involved in an altruistic enterprise: sending healing to someone else. And of the thousands of groups I’ve run by now, I’ve noticed that when people are stuck and they intend for someone else, invariably they, the senders, end up healing something in their own lives, whether health, relationships, finances or career.
In seeing yourself in the other, in joining together as one, other people, it turns out, are your salvation.
As for me, I’m grateful for all of it – the blessings I have now in my beloved family and the work I get to do, the joys and struggles – all the pain and ecstasy, the blessings and sorrows of a lived life.
And I’m so grateful for all of you, because I get to give to you what I continue to learn on my own journey in the hope that it may help you on yours.
May your own road be full of all the bumps – plus your own altruistic intention circle – that help you stay the course.
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