You know that warm fuzzy feeling in the pit of your stomach when you give someone solid directions, give a homeless guy some spare gloves or cash, or simply are there for a friend? Knowing that thanks to you, that one person’s life is slightly improved, simply because you were there?
That’s an extremely powerful thing. Buddhist teachings talk about causing as little harm to other beings around you on this earth, but aiming to help people around you takes that one step further. Hey, you never know, you might prove so amazing at it that you change the world, look at figures like MLK, and CEO’s of amazing charities
There’s no doubt in my mind that helping people around you, and generally being a positive influence in the lives of people that interact with you, will make you a happier and more content person. Anecdotally, on days where I’ve helped a mum lift her pram up a flight of stairs, held the door for someone, or walked a lost person to where they needed to be, I’ve felt exponentially happier, more confident, more valid.
Having said that, no, you cannot achieve happiness purely through helping others and kindness, because that neglects balance and self-care. You cannot be that homeless guy with the huge smile and the free hugs sign. He is not the evidence of a happy successful lifestyle based on helping others and kindness.
No, you cannot achieve happiness purely through helping others and kindness, because that neglects balance and self-care.
Without caring for yourself, and your own success, knowledge and experiences, you’ll never truly be all that helpful to someone. All the experiences I’ve described are fleeting, you’ll never meet that person that needed your help again, but I’m talking about properly helping someone out.
If your partner has just lost one of their parents, for example, if you aren’t properly balanced, emotionally mature and experienced, how can you ever expect to help them through such a rocky, intense time? In order to truly help people you love, you need to be secure, balanced and reliable. Without first achieving those things, you’re going to struggle to help people around you on the level that family and relationships sometimes demand.In order to truly help people you love, you need to be secure, balanced and reliable Click To Tweet
In order to become the person that knows how to comfort, how to support, how to look after and how to guide, you need to have lived through your own experiences and problems. You need to have spent some serious time looking after yourself, and you need to understand people.
That’s just on an emotional level. You need to be reliable, with a job and a home if you’re ever going to support loved ones properly. I’m not saying you need to be rich to be happy, or anything like that, I’m saying you need to be able to look after yourself, and you need to be in control of your own life and prospects. Without that, you will feel helpless, hopeless and unhappy, and no amount of volunteer charity work is going to suddenly cure that.
What I’m saying is, if you really want to have a positive influence on the lives of people around you, first you need to get your affairs in order, because if people you love are constantly worrying about you, you’re hurting them. You’re a burden, and as good an intent to help as you might have, you need to first fix yourself up.
If you really want to have a positive influence on the lives of people around you, first you need to get your affairs in order, because if those you love are constantly worrying about you, you’re hurting them
We all go through patches of depending on people around us, it’s part of being human. There’s really no way to get around it. But until you’re sorted and stable, helping others is not the route to happiness for you, you come first.
While that all seems very negative, that’s not to say that living a helpful, kind and thoughtful life won’t make you happier, it’s just not the be-all and end-all of happiness. You should just be kind and helpful anyway, whenever it’s in your power.
If you’re not, you’ll feel guilty to the person you could’ve helped. We’re all muddling through the same problems, and you could’ve just lessened someone’s burden. Being helpful should just be something you try to incorporate into who you are.
How Can You Help People around You?
Put people at ease. We live in an age dominated by social awkwardness and anxiety. People are nowhere near as desensitized to human contact as they used to be, and sadly that means there’s a lot of people out there who feel incredibly uncomfortable just being in your presence when you’re out and about. What can you do about this? You can leave your comfort zone, and smile at strangers, say hello to people you don’t know. Give that guy with the sweet leather jacket a compliment on it. You want people to react like this to you, sadly most people won’t ever have your clear, good intentions. Be the change you want to see in the world around you.
continue to part 2