As a chiropractor, having a different perspective on common subject matter is nothing new for me. Chiropractic has a philosophy on healing and health, which differs from the traditional medical view. It approaches health and wellbeing in a more holistic manner and evaluates the entire person instead of focusing solely on ridding someone of their symptoms.
In a study about giving, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers found that people are more likely to donate to a charity when they think it will make them feel better. This desire to give is inherently and unconsciously selfish and driven by the brain‘s powerful internal reward systems. In looking at why we give through the brain’s functions, it’s simple—to get a high—to feel good. Our brains not only activate pleasure centers, but they also store any imbalanced or unfair exchanges or transactions. Therefore, to give but not receive can tip the scales mentally and emotionally out of balance and usher in discomfort. Fair exchange, on the other hand, brings wellness and clears us of any altruistic or narcissistic illusions. Sustainable fair exchange works wonders.
Sometimes it is wise to inventory our true inner motives. Are we giving as a result of a family or social obligation or to compensate for past actions—or are we anticipating forward rewards. So often we want to ignore these true motives and brush over the actual reason(s) and simply feel we have done a good thing to feel better. Would we feel guilty if we chose not to give?
In this season of giving let’s not fool ourselves—no one gives completely selflessly. There are always unconscious motives lurking behind the giving. Sometimes shame and guilt from a past behavior or incident propel us towards giving. Or one might give, because of the hopeful rewards and recognition he/she might receive instantaneously or in the future. Either way the scales get tipped. If you think, “it makes me feel good to give,” this implies you must have felt less than good “not giving” just moments prior—and maybe you did. There is nothing necessarily wrong in illusively giving but it just might be insightful to ask ourselves why are we actually doing so.
To repeat (and apologies for busting your big-hearted bubble), there is no selfless giving. There are unconscious motives and compensations lurking. Sustainable fair exchange is wisdom. Giving by itself can be a misnomer. Could a truth of human behavior be a gift—my selfish present to you.
Have a loving and enlightened holidays!
Dr. John Demartini
A world-renowned inspirational speaker, Dr. John Demartini is a noted educator, business consultant, author and founder of The Demartini Institute. He was featured in the acclaimed book and movie The Secret, and is the author of 40 books published in over 29 different languages. Holding a doctorate of chiropractic, Dr. Demartini is a retired chiropractor, and to this day carries with fondness his early memories of enjoying the use of hands, heart and mind at chiropractic college.