Why Good Things Happen to Good People

May 24, 2007

Rock-n-roll legend Billy Joel sang, “Only the Good Die Young”, but Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine bioethics professor Dr. Stephen Post, Ph.D., believes that the good live well.

“Sometimes, the good do die young,” he said. “But studies prove indicate that ‘the good’ are happier, healthier and live a little longer.”

In the new book, Why Good Things Happen to Good People (Random House), Dr. Post and journalist Jill Neimark weave the growing new science of love and giving with moving real-life stories to show how giving unlocks the doors to health, happiness, and a longer life. The book went on sale nationwide this month.

“This book represents a dream come true for me,” said Post. “It’s dream that began when I was 16 years old. Most of my life has been focused on the science and philosophy of positive emotions and giving behaviors.”

Post has devoted much of his adult life to scientific research that sets out to prove the life-enhancing benefits of giving behavior. He serves as president of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, which conducts and funds research on altruism, compassion and service. His research shows that when we give of ourselves, especially if we start young, everything from life satisfaction to self-realization and physical health is significantly improved. Mortality is delayed. Depression is reduced. Well-being and good fortune are increased.

In this new book, Post distills academic research into an inspirational message. The research includes a 50-year study showing that people who are giving during their high school years have better physical and mental health throughout their lives. Other studies show that older people who give live longer than those who don't. Helping others has been shown to bring health benefits to those with chronic illness, including HIV, multiple sclerosis, and heart problems. And studies show that people of all ages who help others on a regular basis, even in small ways, feel happiest.

Why Good Things Happen to Good People tells the stories of lives transformed by giving. Its “love and longevity scale” allows readers to test their own habits of giving, and a chapter-by-chapter plan teaches readers how to change their own lives. According to Post, using the lessons and guidelines in each chapter, you can create a personalized plan for a more generous life, finding the style of giving that suits you best.

“This book captures great new science, great stories, practical self help, and even a carefully validated scale so readers can assess themselves in 10 different ways of doing unto others,” he said.

Source: Case Western Reserve University

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