Oct 01 2017

Can natural disasters bring out the best in us?

Published by at 9:52 am under General

Can natural disasters bring out the best in us?
While the recent hurricanes wreaked havoc on the land,  a spirit of solidarity and goodness rose from the destruction. 

The recent hurricanes in Houston, Florida and surrounding areas were destructive on so many levels. The high winds and flooding damaged property and left many areas a wasteland which will take years to clean up. So many people were affected on so many levels. If you are in one of these affected areas, know that all of us at Body Biotics, Int’l., Corp. were praying for your safety and are hopeful for your return to some kind of  “normal” as soon as possible.

As absolutely horrid as it was, out of the destruction came some amazing stories of humanity, selflessness, love and solidarity. What is it about the human spirit that when acts of God come crashing down upon us, we all give our best and are grateful despite being up to our waist in water? We all want to help those in need and suffering, yet under normal times, we can be a country so divided. Is this God’s way of telling us to cut it out and get along because in one fowl swoop we can be squashed like a bunch of bugs? It certainly gets our attention and makes us think. Perhaps we aren’t as divided as we thought. The beautiful part is we do it willingly. We help others not because we have to but because we want to. It makes us feel good to know we are helping others and perhaps saving a life! In the book A Paradise Built in Hell, Author Rebecca Solnit hits the nail on the head when she describes how people become altruistic during times of disaster. “…”The great majority of people are calm, resourceful, altruistic, or even beyond altruistic, as they risk themselves for others. We improvise the conditions of survival beautifully.”…”1*

Disasters have a way of pulling us away from our own lives’ drama and the trivial stressors that can feel overwhelming on a day to day basis. When real tragedy hits, we get the feeling of “the small stuff doesn’t matter and it’s really all small stuff.” It enables us to put our lives into perspective and understand what really matters…each other and the beauty of each being. It connects us down to our metaphysical fiber. According to Solnit, “… “In some ways, people behave better than in ordinary life and in some disasters people find out about the meaningful role of deep social connections and see their absence in everyday life.”..”1*

This altruism is an innate part of human nature that is a gift we all have waiting for us, deep inside ourselves. Volunteering can make our hearts swell and our spirits rise. Feeling depressed? Read a story to a child in need or help them with their homework or play with them. Hold a baby in the hospital. Bring food to an elderly or sick neighbor. Or just buy the guy behind you in line at your favorite coffee house is morning cup of joe…”just because.” These are all acts of altruism that boost your serotonin and oxytocin levels

The Dalai Lama said”…“The root of happiness is altruism – the wish to be of service to others.”…” And Martin Luther King Jr. said,”… “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”…”2*

Whether we want to call it selflessness, humanity, kindness, self-sacrifice, goodwill, benevolence, empathy or grace, the act of giving of ourselves to help others results in an indescribable feeling. These acts that we witnessed were most likely immediate reactions from people who felt called to help. They didn’t deliberate or think about it…they just said yes and did.

And just when you thought your altruism was all for the good of others, we come to find out that it is actually good for us too! These acts of kindness can do wonders for our health.

A UnitedHealth Group national survey of 3,351 adults discovered that those that volunteered overwhelmingly felt better both mentally and physically after their volunteer experiences. Their results found that…3*

“…-76% of people who volunteered in the last twelve months said that volunteering made them feel healthier.

-94% of people who volunteered in the last twelve months said that volunteering improved their mood

-78% of participants said that volunteering lowered their stress levels.

-96% reported that volunteering enriched their sense of purpose

-80% felt that they had better control over their health

-1/4 of participants reported that their volunteer work helped them to manage a chronic illness by keeping them active and taking their minds off their own problems

– Volunteers have better personal scores than non-volunteers on nine well-established measures of emotional wellbeing including personal independence, capacity of rich interpersonal relations and satisfaction with life

-Volunteering also improved their mood and self-esteem…”3*

And if all these good feelings weren’t enough, another study out of the University of Exeter Medical School in the south of England analyzed data from 40 published studies and found evidence that volunteers had a lower risk of death than those (of similar age and health levels) who did not volunteer, by as much as 20 percent. Volunteers also had lower levels of depression and increased life satisfaction and well being. The lead researchers did say that more testing on this subject is necessary in order to determine if biological, cultural and social factors play a role in one’s willingness to volunteer in the first place.3*

So despite all that is negative with the aftermath of these hurricanes, we can at least celebrate the decency of so many people and know that humankind is not all the bad we see on the news. People showed their best side. Perhaps we can extend this into our everyday lives and not get bogged down by the small stuff. Life is precious.

Take care of yourselves and each other!

Healthiest wishes,






  1. http://healthland.time.com/2012/10/31/how-disasters-bring-out-our-kindness/
  2. https://www.google.com/search?q=altruism+quotes
  3. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hilary-young/benefits-of-volunteering_b_4151540.html

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