There are a lot of blogs, magazines, books, and other forms of media that talk about how to “live the life of your dreams,” “be happier,” or “get what you want in life.” Inevitably, most of the content you find is built around focusing on yourself to create the desired changes in your life.
Don’t get me wrong. I think there is some value to that line of thought. We definitely should be more reflective, mindful, and appreciate in each moment, to the fullest extent. After all, from those disciplines, many good things can flow into our lives.
However, there is another way we can better the self that a lot of people seem to forget about. And that is through helping others.
It can be easy to get caught up in focusing on ourselves. After all, the human race is very egocentric. And that isn’t always a bad thing. But too much living like that can lead a person to an imbalance.
Imagine if we lived in a universe where people only took all the time and no one ever gave. Again, we would reach that imbalance problem, but it would also cause other things to collapse. Governments, companies, communities, and families would all face certain peril.
By giving, whether it is time, money, or resources, we restore balance and return the system of the universe to a more optimal level of functionality.
Helping others does more than just help the universal balance, though. It makes you feel good on a personal level. It gives you a sense of accomplishment you can’t get with any amount of meditation or mindfulness. It gives you a sense of purpose rather than entitlement. And helping others is a great way to help yourself on the back end.
Wait. What? How does helping others help you?
It’s simple. Well, maybe it is.
When I think about little things that we do or decisions we make, I consider how each one of those actions affects the world around us. I’ve mentioned in other articles how doing something small for someone else can change another person’s day for the better, whether you even meet them or not.
It doesn’t have to be some huge project either. Helping others can be a really small task. It could be one that, to you, is really easy. You can open the door for someone, pick up their plate after dinner, assist with a problem at your job that is frustrating a co-worker, or any number of little things.
You could always go a little bigger with the helping. What would it hurt? Instead of judging whether or not a person on the sidewalk really needs help just help them anyway. Do you think giving them a dollar is going to hurt you somehow? Is it going to continue to push them to just keep asking for money from other people?
What if you’re wrong? What if it is the last buck they need to get a ride to a job interview or will put food on their table? What if they don’t have a table?
My parents declared bankruptcy in 1985. They lost the family business to a shady deal, and were broke. Several years later, mom told me that, at one point, she didn’t know how they were going to buy groceries for the week. Then something happened. A friend from our church came by unannounced one night, and said, “I heard you might need some help.”
He handed my mom a hundred dollar bill and walked away. She told me the story with tears in her eyes. Though, I didn’t know it as a young man, that hundred dollars had kept food on the table for my two siblings and I, and a struggling couple. You never know how much you really can do.
What’s that? You want to go even bigger?
Great! Next time you take a vacation, do a vacation with a purpose. Check out the Habitat for Humanity vacations. You can book a trip to almost anywhere in the world, build a home for someone who needs it, and at the same time get nice accommodations for yourself, plus get to experience a new culture.
Want to take a cruise? I heard about a cruise ship that does something cool. It’s like Habitat for Humanity but on a boat. Boom! Cruise to different places, build a school or a home, then enjoy the amenities of a luxury cruise.
There are lots more ways you can help someone out. I’ve only scratched the surface.
Helping others truly is a necessary component to living a more fulfilling, happier life.
Give it a try and let me know what you think. And if you have some other great ways to help others, list them in the comments below. And if you want to get started with the helping right away, share this article on twitter, Facebook, Google+, or just tell a friend about it. Whatever you do, do something today to help someone else.
You’ll definitely be glad you did.