Thursday, December 18, 2008

What you get from giving...

I had the pleasure of running into Terri Trespicio in the neighborhood and found out she is a senior editor at Body+Soul magazine. I am always fascinated by the people, organizations, and companies here in Watertown. I knew Martha Stewart’s magazine had an office just down the street, so it was a nice to make the connection. Of course I had no idea that Terri is something of a media celebrity, with appearances on television and in print as an award-winning poet, essayist, and public speaker.

Since I’ve wanted to comment on Bill Clinton’s book, Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World, I thought I would point out Terri’s insightful conversation about giving during Martha Stewart’s interview with the former President about the Clinton Global Initiative.

Terri’s remarks were based on her article, What You Get from Giving, where she outlines a series of “inspirations to start making generosity a part of every day,” and I want to point out a couple of favorites. Be happy for someone else: “One of the most generous things you can do for the world (and often the most difficult) is to share sympathetic joy or true happiness for someone else’s good fortune…Rather than imagine that there’s less left for you, think the opposite: There’s more to be had as a result.”

Give what you need: “You might decide to give someone something but then a clenching fear arises that you’ll need it, that you don’t have enough of it to give away. The key is awareness of that fear, and giving in spite of it. That’s what makes altruism a practice. It’s not about succeeding or failing; it’s about learning the nature of generosity…Rather than view yourself as bereft and in need of things from others, see yourself as the giver of those things, and you’ll be surprised at what happens.”

Terri refers to research which suggests that nurturing others may feel good because it is rewarded by spikes of dopamine--the neurotransmitter linked to cravings, pleasure, and reward. “If you want a better life, better health, and the sense of being connected and hopeful in this world, the answer is to give,” says bioethicist Stephen Post. “In what can only be considered a blissful karmic payoff, it’s more often the giver--not the receiver--who reaps the biggest payback,” Terri writes.

So watch the interview here to find out why President Clinton said he wished he had Terri’s article before writing his book.