A helper’s high is easy to achieve

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A helper’s high is easy to achieve


You don’t have to be a marathoner to have “runner’s high” if you enjoy running. It is the sensation of exhilaration and well-being after running for more than 30 minutes. Scholars presume that endorphins produced in the brain are responsible for the feeling. I had runner’s high while working out at a gym. I was out of breath, but suddenly, my pain disappeared and I felt re-energized and euphoric.

At the “Starry Night of Arts” in Yeouido, on Dec. 4, another exhilarating feeling, the “helper’s high,” was a key concept. The event was to acknowledge the businesses and individuals who contributed to the “Artistree” movement, a nationwide arts and culture sponsorship that began in October 2012. Stage actress Shon Suk and Seoul School of Integrated Sciences and Technologies professor Yoon Eun-key hosted a talk show segment in the event. They said that, like a runner’s high, we can feel euphoric and content by helping others.

Dr. Allan Luks studied 3,000 volunteers and concluded that people receive positive effects mentally and physically by performing a kind act. Endorphins are produced, stress is reduced and senses of self-worth and emotional well-being are enhanced.

Professor Yoon said, “So we are not asking to sponsor arts. We are asking people to be happy.”

There is not much money to be made in the arts, and artists would not immediately benefit financially from corporate and individual sponsors. However, 15-year-old Jang Seong-bin, who sang a part from “Simcheongga” - one of the five surviving stories of the Korean pansori storytelling tradition - for 7 minutes, 30 seconds, moved everyone.

Jang is an intellectually challenged musician who was featured in the JoongAng Ilbo recently. While his intellectual age is about 9, he has loved traditional pansori since elementary school and got into the traditional music division of Jeonju Arts High School. If it weren’t for the help of a charity organization, the boy who aspires to become an intangible cultural asset, wouldn’t have been able to pursue his dream.

Sponsoring a “tree” through the Artistree movement only costs 3,000 won ($2.85) per month. I am growing 10 trees. While corporate and individual sponsors are growing 73,000 trees now, I am sure that small forest will expand into a vast woodland. Posco has begun a campaign to grow the trees, and employees of Byucksan Engineering contribute 0.5 percent of their salaries every month. The “Age of Happiness for All Citizens” does not come overnight. The feeling of happiness begins from our inner souls.

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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