Giving back is a “win-win” situation. People in society today tend to be self-absorbed and wrapped up in their own lives. Most don’t realize that stepping “outside of themselves” with various acts of kindness not only helps the other person but also enhances personal growth and happiness for oneself. For example, in 2009 a study using fMRI brain scans, neuroscientists documented that “the regions of the brain that are activated when we receive money glow even brighter when we give money.”

There are many ways to give back and pay it forward. Reaching out and volunteering to help those that suffer using our most valuable resource, time, increases our mental well-being, giving our life purpose and meaning. When I volunteer running group meeting for inpatients suffering from addictions it takes me “out of myself” and also allows me the opportunity to “plant seeds.” If something I say resonates with even just one client and helps to save another life than that for me is the ultimate gift and true purpose for my being.

Community engagement such as 12-step programs are free and absolutely prove to be — for many suffering with addictions — the most healing, lifesaving steps to recovery and maintenance. Unconditional support providing hope, courage, and strength by carrying the message to others that are still suffering. The “sponsor/sponsee” relationship where one person that has found recovery helps another also strengthens and maintains their own sobriety. The community carries the sufferer until they can carry themselves. Often it’s pain that enables our spiritual growth and ability to give back what was so freely given to us. Those is recovery cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” while finding what they’ve lost, their “true selves.”

When you see that homeless person on the street begging, try to open your heart.  That person is someone’s child and most likely suffering from a mental illness/addiction. Every life is worth saving and all are deserving of happiness. If you know someone suffering from a mental illness/addiction reach out, pay it forward; you’ll not only be helping them, but yourself and society as a whole.

About Carole Eastman

Carole is an addiction counselor whose passion is to provide support to others suffering from the disease of addiction and mental health disorders. In recovery from alcoholism for over 6 years, Carole understands the barriers and challenges many face in order to achieve a better quality of life which we are all so deserving of. Carole has raised three children as a single mother and after many years of struggling now enjoys living life on life’s terms. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, and follow her story on HMC’s Supportive Minds Blog.

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