The Real "Secret" To Health and Happiness
Updated: May 14, 2022
Persuading people to part with their money—or time—is the copywriter’s art. Time spent doing something they normally wouldn’t be predisposed to do. Money exchanged for a product or service guaranteed to solve a problem. Promises are made that a longed-for benefit can be bought if they just act the way you’re calling them to do.
Playing on emotions is a big part of the spiel. The yearning to be healthy, wealthy, sexy, and you-name-it are powerful motivators. Money spent for whatever is being peddled will buy them these desires and more.
Snake oil, anyone?
We all know the pitch. Just swallow this pill and burn pounds off in a week while you sleep. Make a fortune overnight investing in the next sure thing. Drive this car and be the object of everyone’s attention and, might I say, desire. But you must do it now or the opportunity may be gone forever.
But for someone making copywriting a ministry, to glory God and build his kingdom, using the copywriter’s art in pursuit of the world doesn’t mesh. We all have strong desires to feel good and avoid pain—to be healthy, comfortably set up, relationally satisfied. And more often that we should, buy stuff attempting to fulfill those desires and, at the core, copywriting’s technique is to tap into that weakness. Seeking the world first before the kingdom.
Believers know full well—while still struggling to resist it—that no earthly thing will fully satisfy the flesh’s appetites, at least not for very long. If we’re not filling our life with the things of God, going about his business, depending on him to provide for our needs, there’s every chance we’re miserable. Chasing our tails endlessly and fruitlessly for the next thing that delights our senses for a while, then quickly withers and fades. Then we’re out seeking another fix—run ragged vainly “striving after wind”.
How then does a copywriter practice the persuasive art while still maintaining a biblical standard? Hawking questionable products or services no one really needs and that most often don’t work, and duping people out of their hard-earned money is not a pursuit living up to God’s calling.
But we frequently do need a kick in the pants to do the right things too, counteracting the world’s pressure to do the wrong things. The persuasive art can be used for good or bad purposes. The same techniques applied to a worthwhile cause or a useless one.
Copywriting leveraged for worthy causes can persuade people into charitable giving. But it’s not obviously apparent what the benefit is to the giver. What do you promise? You won’t lose weight, you won’t get rich (at least overnight), you won’t have that gadget making you stand out from the crowd. You will get a warm fuzzy from seeing your gift making a difference in people’s lives.
But is that all?
Well, as pointed out, copywriting promises rewards for spending money—you can buy happiness, peace, purpose, self-worth. All the things we deeply desire. All the things with which we desperately try to fill that “God-shaped vacuum” inside.
Ironically, by giving is how we best can achieve these things, not through buying.
Of course, believers know this from the promises of God. How much more blessed it is to give than to receive. And that when we give, it will be given back immeasurably. But maybe we don’t always associate the payback with immediate, tangible benefits in the here and now. Rather that we are storing up heavenly treasures for later, which is perfectly true.
However, there are real benefits for the giver in the here and now. The peace, health, joy that buying earthly things promises to bestow but fail in the long run, are attainable through giving.
Science and medicine, apart from a biblical worldview, confirm the benefits of giving. The Greater Good Magazine published by UC Berkeley, Cone Health, the Cleveland Clinic, and many other institutions all report studies affirming that giving to others—whether our time or money—rewards us with many of the things we deeply desire and try to buy in a pill, a procedure, a bottle, a bank account.
How many products have promised to lower blood pressure, relieve depression and anxiety, lengthen life, improve self-esteem, and everything else to obtain peace, happiness, and contentment? Yet studies have found that all of these are a result of giving.
Our mental well-being concerns our biology—as designed by God—as much as our physical health. Giving stimulates positive chemical reactions in the brain. Serotonin is released boosting our mood. Endorphins like dopamine give us those warm fuzzies. The hormone oxytocin provides that highly desired sense of peace. And these can all be sustained by regular giving, not through regular buying, which often causes opposite effects in the long run. And because giving reduces blood pressure and stress, it can lead to that longer life so often promised by the next health craze.
On a societal level, no matter one’s background, nearly everyone agrees that the world just isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. But we’re always looking for someone else to fix it. We put our faith in the next politician or rock star du jour to save us. The truth is that we all are the true Savior’s hands and feet called to “do something”. If everyone practiced his Golden Rule, the world would be set right. Through giving is how we best practice the Rule and solve society’s problems in the process. Self-interest abolished, relationships restored, peace and harmony achieved.
Dr. Andrew Geleris is a practicing neurologist affiliated with the Casa Colina Hospital with over 40 years' experience. He also Vice Chairs the Board of Directors of the Orthodox Christian Leadership Initiative that seeks to foster and empower Christian-based servant leadership. He is uniquely qualified to know the benefits—both physically and spiritually—of giving. As he says, “When we bless God with our money, God blesses us with the things money cannot buy. Joy. Peace. Depth of prayer. And meaning in our lives.” Pretty much all the benefits we strive to attain through buying.
I would venture to say we were originally wired to be givers, but sin corrupted us into takers.
Giving of our time, talent, and treasure is the only way to truly love. Love isn’t words or feelings, but faith in action. It demands sacrifice. And it requires others.
So, give, and it will be given to you. Peace, joy, health, esteem and so, so much more, running over. A promise guaranteed by the highest authority. Now and forever.