It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
One truism I lead my life by is – the more I give, the more I live. In this post I’d like to expand on this train of thought.
Before we can dig deeper, we need to define basic terms first. What does it mean to live; and moreover, what does it mean to live a good, happy life.
As that’s what it is all about, right?
I had a happy, protected childhood. But things went wrong somewhere. I became slightly depressed, and knew extreme measures were needed to avoid going further down that path.
It made no logical sense, as I had it all – I could afford almost anything a high school graduate could want – a car, travel, drinks and food, you name it. But it didn’t make me happy.
I took an extreme measure and moved to a different city. This allowed me to reset my life, take a look at it from a fresh perspective, and change what needed to be changed in order for me to walk on the path to happiness.
And a lot needed changing.
And I’ve been thinking… there I was able to afford everything I could possibly have wanted, so what else do I need?
And no, unlike the lead in to this article, for me it wasn’t charity. I realized that I was happy during the whole month prior to arriving to my new home in a new city, the month I spent planning and arranging things. And then I realized why that was.
I realized that being happy is not about having, rather it’s about progressing, about the journey forward; it’s about growing as a person.
ALTRUISTIC? NOT ME!
People who have little usually can’t grasp why on Earth would anyone volunteer their time, their money or their effort to another human being. What do they gain by this? Are they crazy?
On the contrary. Becoming a volunteer was what really changed it all for me.
By volunteering I gained another perspective to life. I saw the world through the eyes of people who are on the margins of society. I learned that they have pretty much the safe fears, the same desires, wants and hopes as I did. A great lesson in and of itself.
By volunteering I gained a new sense of purpose. I again questioned my life and what could be improved. I gained a much more positive outlook that remained with me for years to come.
By volunteering I got to meet and be around these incredible people. People who want to change the world and have the drive to do it. People who realize that one drop can spill the ocean.
Who you are is who you are with most of the time…
HELP OTHERS TO HELP YOURSELF
And this brings me back to the quote from the start of this article. “It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”
As you can see, helping others is what helped me. The more I gave the better I felt and the better I felt the more I was ready to give. It’s a vicious circle, reversed!
IF VOLUNTEERING IS JUST NOT YOU
If volunteering is not your thing, that’s OK too. There are so many ways you can help people lead better lives it’s hard to count.
- Got spare clothes you never wear and never will? I know it’s hard to say goodbye to your old friends, but someone will actually help that clothes fulfill its purpose and will wear them with pride.
- Does your child have toys they don’t play with anymore? Great, now you have a chance to give them a life lesson about giving, about how much it means for other people, and what it would mean for your child as well. Just make sure to help them see exactly how their gift made an impact on another child’s life.
- Don’t know how to help but you’ve got a few bucks to spare? So many charities could use that money for a great cause! Just make sure to donate directly and avoid the money grabbing middleman fund raisers that give charities a bad reputation.
- What might be even more fun is to play a charity lottery. You’d buy a ticket from a charity and have a chance to win a house, a car, or something else, and all the proceeds would go to a good cause. It is a great feeling when you know that you win even when you lose. And if you don’t get drawn out for a prize, you know that you’ve helped somebody else.
- And if you still don’t see yourself in any of these things, you can always help out your neighbors, clean the park near your house that’s used by junkies during nights rather than children during the days… or help raise awareness about a cause you care about. Possibilities are truly endless.
Go and help someone else today. You will get a sense that you’ve made a positive impact on the World, you will feel better and you will look at things from a new angle.
It will be worth it, I promise!