As you all know, I have been doing more than my share of soul-searching these past few months. A second son off to college, an almost empty nest, the approach of that “big birthday,” a move and a host of other life adventures are just a few of the things that have triggered this reflection.
One of the things I have been really looking at is how I spend my time. Is my time a true reflection of what is important to me? The answer is a bit of a mixed bag and has me wondering if I am addicted to philanthropy? Serving others is a rush, an incredible feeling of knowing that you did something to make someone else’s life better but somewhere along the line there needs to be a balance….or so I am told.
I have interviewed and met so many incredible people through Charity Matters and believe it or not, I am not the only one with this “service addiction.” No, I am not saying that it is somehow ok because I have company, but what I do find fascinating is how many of us are out there. People who just can’t get enough of giving their time to causes (often many) that they are passionate about.
Recent studies by Northwestern University Medical School neurologist, Jordan Graftman have shown that the brain’s frontal lobe lights up in MRI’s when people give and the brain’s pleasure and reward circuits rev into high gear as well, releasing dopamine to the brain. So there is and physiological and chemical reaction that provides the same great feelings that food, sugar, sex and some drugs provide.
Doing anything to an extreme is never a good idea, even philanthropy. As I ponder, how to give my time and energy to what and who is most important in my life. I am questioning where I spend this precious gift and how it is best used. Being an addict is never good but I suppose if I had to pick a vice, it sure could be worse.
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