The Art of Strengths Coaching

H is for The Helper’s High

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People often feel good after helping others. They can experience a rush, followed by a sense of calm. It is as if they have served something much greater than themselves.

Allan Luks and Peggy Payne used the term Helper’s High in their book The Healing Power of Doing Good. They found that people who helped others also received benefits themselves.

Below is an extract from Allan Luks’ website. Whilst it focuses on volunteering, the same principle applies to helping others in our daily lives.

http://allanluks.com/helpers_high

http://www.peggypayne.com/healing-power-of-doing-good/

Based on national research that Allan did 20 years ago, he introduced the term ‘Helper’s High’ – the powerful physical feelings people experience when directly helping others – to explain the real benefits to volunteers’ physical and emotional health.

People have known for ages that helping others is good for the soul. But the study that Allan Luks conducted of over 3000 male and female volunteers has proven it is good for the body and mental health too.

His research concluded that regular helpers are 10 times more likely to be in good health than people who don’t volunteer.

And that there’s an actual biochemical explanation: volunteering reduces the body’s stress and also releases endorphins, the brain’s natural painkillers.  

Here is an example that Allan and Peggy give about Mary, a volunteer. They explain that Mary experiences ‘a transcendent calm’ after giving her best. They write:

On a recent night, driving away from the prison parking lot, she listened to a piece of music by Mozart on the radio and realised that the work she had done with imprisoned people and with others who needed help was her own piece of original music, lifting her own spirits.

“It’s for me a creative work. It’s a concert,” she said.

She could never be a preacher and doesn’t write as well as she’d like. But she knows how much she can help people, and that feels like a good talent to have.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific example of when you helped others – a person or a group of people – and experienced the helper’s high.

Describe the specific things you did then to help the person or group of people.

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things – both for others and for yourself.

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Looking ahead, how can you use your strengths to help other people? Stephen Post, a professor of preventative medicine, believes that helping others may be one of the keys to happiness.

He outlined this approach in the book he wrote with Jill Neimark, called Why Good Things Happen To Good People. The conclusion they came to echoes the words of Abraham Lincoln.

When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad.

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The authors explore why altruistic people are often happier and healthier than others. They found that helping others can help us:

To feel physically and emotionally healthier.

To live longer.

To experience the joy of giving and feeling alive

“This is the helper’s high,” explain the authors. “The more giving you become, the happier you become.”

Why Good Things Happen To Good People quotes a fifty-year study of young people who developed the habit of helping others. These people went on to enjoy physical and mental health benefits throughout their lives. You can discover more via the following links.

http://stephengpost.com/

http://unlimitedloveinstitute.org/

http://www.jillneimark.com/good.php

Roger Walsh has spent much of his life exploring how to enhance wellbeing – physical, psychological, social and spiritual. He says:

This search has been powered by questions such as:

What does it mean to live wisely and well, and what does it take?

How can we cultivate qualities such as love and wisdom, kindness and compassion?

What is meant by terms such as enlightenment and liberation, salvation and satori?

In the video below Roger explains how helping others can also help ourselves. You can discover more about his work at the following site.

http://www.drrogerwalsh.com/

People often feel good after giving to others. Some people actually prefer to give, rather than to receive. Receiving graciously, however, can also be a form of giving.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on the theme of helping others. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific example in the future where you would like to help a person or a group of people.

Describe the specific things you can do to help people in that situation.

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things – both for others and for yourself.

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    F is for Being Able To Flow, Focus and Finish

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    There are many models for doing fine work. One approach is for people to go into a situation and to be able to flow, focus and finish. Sometimes, as a by-product, they may also experience fulfilment.

    Looking back on your life, can you think of a specific example when you went through some of these stages? You may have been writing an article, playing a sport, singing a song or whatever.

    What did you do right then? What were the principles you followed? How can you follow these principles – plus maybe add other elements – to do fine work in the future?

    Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi pioneered much of the work in this field. He wrote the book Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. You can find an introduction to his work via the following link.

    http://www.thepositiveapproach.info/mihaly-csikszentmihalys-work-on-flow-with-video/

    flow

    Mihaly says that flow experiences are those where you become completely absorbed in an activity and time goes away.

    You start by choosing to do something stimulating and perhaps stretching. This could be writing, skiing, solving a problem, tackling a challenge or whatever. You may then go through the following stages.

    You concentrate fully on what you are doing, set clear goals and believe you have a chance of achieving success.

    You have a sense of control over your actions, do the work and get immediate feedback.

    You experience a deep and effortless involvement that removes the frustrations of everyday life.

    You find your concern for self disappears, but paradoxically your sense of self emerges stronger.

    You find the experience is so enjoyable that your sense of time disappears.

    You do your best, keep developing and perhaps achieve your picture of success.

    Mihaly says that teams may also go into a state of flow. He describes one example where:

    Surgeons say that during a difficult operation they have the sensation that the entire operating team is a single organism, moved by the same purpose.

    They describe it as a ‘ballet’ in which the individual is subordinated to the group performance, and all involved share in a feeling of harmony and power.

    If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

    Describe a specific situation where you were able to flow, focus and finish.

    Describe the specific things you did right then – the principles you followed – to be able to flow, focus and finish.

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    Great workers aim to flow – rather than freeze – when tackling difficult challenges. They may be preparing to give a keynote speech, run in a sprint final, sing at an audition or whatever.

    Looking ahead to the challenge, they explore how they can do their best and clarify their picture of success. They then take some of the following steps.

    They recall the principles they have followed to flow in similar situations.

    They rehearse how they can follow these principles – plus maybe add other skills – to flow in the future situation.

    They rehearse how they can manage any potential setbacks in the situation.

    They relax, re-centre and go through their own rituals before clicking into gear when going into the situation.

    They continue to be fully present, give their best and flow, focus and finish.

    Different people follow different principles for making this happen. One golfer reported:

    “Ever since I was 6 years old, I had imagined sinking the final putt to win a major championship.

    “Now the moment had arrived. People said the crowd became hushed, but I never noticed.

    “Going inside my ‘bubble’, I went through the old routine. This was just me, the ball, the green and the hole.

    “Breathing calmly, I remembered the putts I had holed, rather than those I had missed. I simply concentrated on the moment.

    “Swinging the putter, I made perfect contact and watched the ball travel into the hole. All hell broke loose and I collapsed in a heap.”

    Writing in Flow, Mihaly explains that we can learn from the moments when we are at our best. He explains:

    We have all experienced times when, instead of being buffeted by anonymous forces, we do feel in control of our actions, masters of our own fate.

    On the rare occasions that it happens, we feel a sense of exhilaration, a deep sense of enjoyment that is long cherished and that becomes a landmark in memory for what life should be like.

    The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.

    Optimal experience is therefore something that we make happen.

    If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

    Describe a specific situation where you would like to flow, focus and finish.

    Describe the specific things you can do then to do your best to flow, focus and finish.

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