The Hidden Gifts of Helping: How the Power of Giving, Compassion, and Hope Can Get Us Through Hard Times by Stephen G. Post

The Hidden Gifts of Helping: How the Power of Giving, Compassion, and Hope Can Get Us Through Hard Times
Stephen G. Post
Jossey-Bass (2011)
ISBN 9780470887813
Reviewed by Joseph Yurt for Reader Views (6/11)

I consider physician and author Stephen G. Post to be the quintessential do gooder.  But I am not using the term in a disparaging way. Rather, with regard to helping others and giving back to his community, Post is the real deal. He walks the talk in his previous books and now, in his new book, “The Hidden Gifts of Helping,” he shares the story of his own recent hard times to demonstrate the value his teachings in his own personal life.

In 2008, the teaching and research job he had held for twenty years at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine was yanked out from under him. He was then thrust into a difficult relocation from Cleveland, a community in which he and his family had put down deep roots, to Long Island, NY. Post’s universal theme of “how the power of giving, compassion, and hope can get us through hard times” is woven throughout his own story, which he shares openly in the first part of the book, and throughout his ensuing exploration of the concepts of giving, compassion,  and hope which follow.

At first glance, it appears that “The Hidden Gifts of Helping” is yet another solid, but ordinary, self-help book. It becomes apparent early on that it is something deeper; a compelling combination of both hard science and “heart science.” Post has been intimately involved in extensive research on the psychological and physiological impact of happiness on humans, including a five-year study on the subject which he helped direct at Emory University. What the research tells, what the old wisdom says and what Post has seen, heard and felt in years of interaction with other human beings, in varying conditions of need and care, is eloquently bound in a book that is clearly intended as a passionate, heart-felt gift from author to reader.

Stephen Post’s “The Hidden Gifts of Helping” offers a truly timeless scientific, spiritual, and motivational study of the subject of happiness. For those among us who, out of hardship, are seeking true happiness sooner than later, the book is most timely indeed. But regardless of our particular situation, whether it’s “never been better” or “why me lord?,” Stephen Post says the journey starts this very moment. Do it, do it now. I believe him. And, I believe that his book will be a heart friend for the rest of my life.

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