Generosity and Happiness
You hear from all sources and in all different ways that you should “give to others.” This means you should give of yourself in any way possible - be it with your time, your money, or other resources available to you. And while this command has roots that are as old as mankind, some people live their whole lives without ever heeding it. For instance, I know one man whose idea of “giving back” is tipping his server when he goes out to eat. Similarly, I know a woman whose acts of charity are not her own, but rather those of her children. She lays claim to such acts by laughingly saying, “I gave birth to those kids, so I can take credit for the good they do.”
Notwithstanding these two individuals, I see both common and exceptional acts of generosity all around me. I know people who participate in nonprofit organizations and truly believe in the causes of which they are a part. These participants might volunteer at fundraising events or donate money. Other people, who are members of groups like the Odd Fellows and Rotary Club, have even more pivotal roles in the ways they reach out to those in need. The woman who is president of our local Odd Fellows, for instance, uses her personal money and time to prepare homemade food every Saturday for the homeless.
You Get What You Give
These people have inspired me to be more generous. Until recently, I didn’t think much about “giving back” and so I didn’t do a lot in this arena. But, just like the command says, giving back really does feel good. It makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger, like I’m reaching beyond myself and becoming involved with the world. Further, it’s nice to step away from my own problems and focus on the needs of others, to help find solutions that can be put into motion for actual results.
For most of my adult life, I have struggled with personal relationships that have caused me to withdraw from others and even become something of an introvert. Receding from the world, however, meant that I became self-absorbed. I didn’t think about other people because every ounce of my energy was already devoted to myself. This personal absorption made me a very uninteresting person. I didn’t have much to say to others and therefore didn’t participate in conversations; I wasn’t a good friend and didn’t have many people in my life that I cared about.
Stepping away from myself and into my community, however, has taught me about the struggles of others. This has been a fulfilling experience and has given me a more realistic perspective of life. Everybody struggles, everybody has troubles, everybody longs for happiness but doesn’t always know how to achieve it. Making a conscious effort to touch others in some way, however small, gives them a ray of hope. And I know that when I’m feeling distressed, I would love to have somebody extend a helping hand to me.
Sometimes, when you’re at your lowest, doing something so unlikely as reaching out to others can make you feel better. Don’t make the same mistake that I did and become wrapped and tangled in your own struggles. Life is a bumpy road for all of us, but sometimes we can make it a little smoother by reaching out to others and allowing them to unwittingly help us as well.