Are you a job seeker? Learn the hidden benefits of volunteering

He had to stop arguing for failure, unemployment and depression. © Glowimages
Research into the benefits of volunteering can help the job seeker © Glowimages

International Volunteer Day falls on 5 December each year; a day established by the United Nations to raise awareness of all that volunteers add to our economic and social development, at every level in the global community.

Did you know that your “attitude of gratitude” which has led you to volunteer is adding to your health and wellbeing; whether it’s in collecting for a worthwhile cause, giving your time and expertise in community service organisations like Surf Life Saving Australia, working on school P&Cs or for Meals on Wheels or church-based community organisations?

Scientists have been accumulating considerable evidence that verifies what spiritual thinkers have long affirmed: “a grateful heart” that is ready to be of service is beneficial to our health.

The International Journal of Person Centered Medicine published a study which examined fifty investigations into the health benefits experienced by individuals who act sincerely to help others. The evidence included studies on benefits such as recovery from alcoholism, addiction, and depression; on coping with severe diagnoses and dying; longevity; in neurology, endocrinology and immunology; and on self-reported happiness and the “helper’s high” in relation to volunteerism and community service.

The evidence as to the effects of gratitude and service on health and wellbeing is so powerful that the report recommends that healthcare professionals prescribe volunteering to their patients.

But what if your need is simply to obtain employment so that you can keep a roof over your head and put food on the table for your family? Understandably, you feel you first need to get a job before considering the benefits of volunteering.

Today’s media reported that hundreds of thousands of individuals are facing this dilemma right now, along with the thousands of tertiary and secondary school graduates who have yet to find their niche.

However, the research into the benefits of volunteering can help the job seeker, too.

Thinking about our basic need to have meaningful employment, have you ever thought about “service” as a definition of “employment”?

A colleague discovered its importance when he was retrenched. He was a senior executive in a big corporation who had children in private schools, a new house in the process of being built and numerous other financial commitments … and he was the only breadwinner.

With all his contacts and his good reputation he figured that he’d be back at work in no time, but despite doing all the right things, like sending out his resume and making hundreds of phone calls to prospective employers nothing developed.

Although increasingly numbed by fear of the consequences for his family, he eventually realised that he needed to change his thinking.

He had to stop arguing for failure, unemployment and depression.

He took a stand with this statement from a book that links our thoughts with our wellbeing as his focus, “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.” (Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy)

Although there seemed little evidence of this Love and care in his seemingly desperate human need, he decided to think about his circumstances as an opportunity … to be of service and to use his talents to help others, instead of fixating on his problem.

He volunteered to do any handyman work that his neighbours needed, and in time was earning a small income mowing lawns and doing minor carpentry work that kept him busy from morning till night.

His “helper’s high” meant that he now had a reason to face each day and soon the dread of unemployment began to recede. Of course he kept looking for work in his chosen field and eventually he got a phone call asking him to take a position back in that field.

His humble, caring and positive attitude expressed the type of love that will always unites us with the divine power that governs the universe, and on this occasion it did indeed meet his human need.

My experience, too, is that you can expect lots of changes for the better when you take the time to learn more about divine Love, identified in many religions but explained so clearly in the book Science and Health, and embrace that loving practice in your everyday life.

This article was published on 25 APN websites including the Sunshine Coast Daily, Toowoomba Chronicle, Bundaberg NewsMail, Fraser Coast Chronicle, Gympie Times, Gladstone Observer, Tweed Daily News, Lismore Northern Star, Grafton Daily Examiner, Warwick Daily News and Ipswich Queensland Times.

Is there a daily diet that curbs perfectionism, eating disorders?

A daily diet that feeds our famished affections

Four ‘trick or treaters’ knocked on our door on Halloween evening. Somewhat unprepared and surprised to experience this novelty in Australia I managed to locate a few sweet treats for each of them, and they left happily bubbling with excitement.

Was I frightened of their costumes or weird masks? Of course not. And I’m sure they didn’t believe for a moment that they’d suddenly morphed into ugly, wicked or ghoulish creatures, either.

Sometimes, though, people do put on an emotionally draining mask as they strive to feel accepted and loved. Over time they may come to accept the charade as part of themselves.

For instance, they may act out the role where they have to be the best … at everything. They can’t abide mistakes and feel it’s a badge of honour to say they’re a perfectionist. Ever in fear of failing, they may be chronic procrastinators. They don’t like themselves very much either, because they rarely live up to their own expectations.

They may be caught up in a warped view of the world that is commonly known as perfectionism.

Like many psychologists, Thomas S Greenspon believes that perfectionism is more than pushing yourself to do your best to achieve a goal; it’s a reflection of an inner self mired in anxiety, where you constantly feel like an imposter. “Perfectionist people typically believe that they can never be good enough, that mistakes are signs of personal flaws, and that the only route to acceptability as a person is to be perfect,” he said.

Whatever the reason may be for that belief, at the heart of the often life-long anxiety to appear perfect is our adoption of the general belief that the human mind is full of good and bad emotions and beliefs, some of which are detrimental to mental and physical health.

However, what’s gaining wider acceptance in health research today is the degree to which the body is the servant of the mind.Continue Reading

Remembrance Day: Veterans focus upward and outward to heal


Today’s commemorations highlight the best of human conduct – servicemen’s and servicewomen’s courage, mateship, decency and willingness to lay down their lives for country and comrades in battle.

At the same time though, and in a quieter way, there is mention of those suffering from trauma as a result of seeing the devastation and brutality that go hand-in-hand with war. It was reported on ABC Big Ideas that upwards of 30% of serving Australian defence force personnel experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), leaving them with recurring images of carnage and devastation. It also often leaves them numb and detached, and sometimes suicidal.

Many servicemen and -women struggle to ‘get past’ such events and are often influenced by them day-by-day and well into the future.

Sometimes trauma shatters our basic assumptions about our invulnerability and the safety of the world or reinforces pre-existing negative beliefs that play out into self-blame and guilt.

International researcher and psychotherapist Dr Kenneth Pargament in Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy,  describes many ways that an undeveloped spirituality needs to be addressed in PTSD as it contributes to a client’s psychological despair.

Although it requires great humilityContinue Reading

Genealogy – a record of who we are, or not?

family tree4

It is fascinating to trace your family history back through the generations. Millions agree, considering the popularity of TV programs such as Who do you think you are?

I find it amazing that the well-known personalities who delve into the past are quite emotional about the heartbreaks, injustices and challenges experienced by their forebears, who they have only just discovered existed. On the plus side, this has led to healing in families when today’s standards and insights about race, religion, circumstances and nationality have been brought to the table.

Genealogy websites are just as popular. My cousins had traced our family tree back several generations. So, earlier this year we visited a family estate in Ireland and our namesake town in England and felt the warmth of belonging, despite never having visited before.

On the downside, shocking discoveries about forebears, such as a relative who promoted slavery, or great, great-grandparents who included criminals, prisoners, millionaires and paupers, all pepper family histories. Not to mention records of disease and mental illness resurfacing over the generations.Continue Reading

The essential ingredients for youth mental health

Time to talk about essential spirituality © Glowimages
Mental Health Week – time to talk about essential spirituality © Glowimages

The years between 15-25 are frequently a time of questioning and great discovery, but like many others I found them difficult. I had to deal with chronic disease, failure in my chosen career, a persistent lack of self-worth along with indecision about an alternative career path, and loneliness.

Although never diagnosed, a psychologist would probably have called me depressed.Continue Reading

Love can rewrite our prognosis

a kinder-hearted society

Out for my afternoon walk I was overtaken by a huge, gangly black puppy dragging along his owner. They brought a smile to my face and jogged a memory of my lovely little fox terrier-corgi cross, Tess. I couldn’t help contrasting the use of a body harness/lead worn by the pup and my use of a traditional collar and lead, which on reflection must have tugged constantly on dear Tess when we went for walks.

Things change for the better. A kinder-hearted society looks for and discovers better solutions.

I’m pleased to see that enlightened thought today is urging us to re-examine and move beyond Darwin’s theory of evolution and survival of the fittest based on an exclusively material view of the world.Continue Reading

Experiencing Health via the Connection

Edwin de Leon

Why don’t you hear more about the revolutionary healthcare options and treatments that take into account the mind-body-spirit connection from your local doctor or hospital?

Here’s one explanation. In Dr Craig Hassed’s keynote address at the 20th Annual International Integrative Medicine Conference in Sydney last week he referred to Thomas Kuhn’s philosophy of the Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Continue Reading

Healthier views are springing up amidst the well-meaning daffodils


Whether you buy a bunch or two of gorgeous yellow daffodils on Daffodil Day to support the Cancer Council’s objectives or not, you might let this explosion of colour in our shops stir you to take charge of how you think about your health.

If you do, you won’t be alone. There are an increasing number of medical voices speaking up for a new view of health and healing, based on the integral nature of our thoughts and beliefs to our state of health.

For instance, Dr Lissa Rankin has reviewed the research, and is vocal in naming some of the fears that make us sick and prevent disease remission, like thinking about sickness all the time, believing that we’re victims of our genes, and adhering to false programming about health and hygiene.Continue Reading

Buying or selling? You don’t have to be stressed

sold moving in

At last I’d found the perfect new home after weeks of searching and it ticked all the boxes!

The thing was, it would cost every dollar we had and more, and my joy in finding it was causing my long-suffering husband to experience horrific stress with the thought that we would be forever chasing our tails in financial hardship.

Tension was escalating between us, as circumstances dictated that a decision had to be made, and that very weekend!Continue Reading

Can a shift in thought boost not only Commonwealth Games success but future wellbeing?

Whats the spirit that makes you successful

If you’re from anywhere in the British Commonwealth, it’s fairly certain that the XX Commonwealth Games are in your thoughts right now as competitors line up with some of the best in the world in Glasgow.

With over 400 athletes hailing from Australia and a swag of medals already in the bag we are again asserting a claim to being the Number One sporting nation in the British Commonwealth.

One of our greatest Commonwealth and Olympic Games swimmers, breaking 400m, 800m, and 1500m freestyle world records, was Kieren Perkins, O.A.M.

When asked how he achieved such feats he answered, “Being your best is not so much about overcoming the barriers other people place in front of you as it is about overcoming the barriers we place in front of ourselves”.

As personal bests are beaten and world records fall, many thoughtful people admit that health, like sporting success, is about overcoming the barriers we believe — not just about what’s going on physically but what’s happening mentally.Continue Reading