Every day we find ourselves faced with important questions placed before us. What should I wear today? Should I have more than just coffee for breakfast? Do I really need those new sunglasses? Little things, perhaps, but inevitably laying the ground work for much bigger questions to come down the line. For example: “Is there enough gas in the car to give so-and-so a ride to work,”is often followed by, “and what’s in it for me?”
it seems like everyone is out for themselves these days. We’ve all been told at one point or another in our lives that we need to “Look out for numero uno.” Yet that kind of one-dimensional thinking leads not to happiness and fulfillment, but a need for more to fill a void left by constantly satisfying our own needs.
There are two men in my life that are constantly putting themselves before others, often at the expense of the people around them. They are more than willing to help out in any given situation, so long as they come out the better or the richer for it. Once the deed is done, the feeling of satisfaction and completion is fleeting and has no lasting joy. These two men do not know each other, yet they are very much alike. They are alienated, have mood and mental disorders. they constantly crave love and affection and cannot understand why it doesn’t come to them, and more importantly, why it doesn’t stay if it does come. They are always looking for the next “feel good” thing or moment, and they feel alone all the time. Whether in a crowded room of familiar faces or on a street full of strangers – they are always alone.
I started looking at the way these two men live and found the “what’s in it for me?” factor very prevalent in both of them. Trying to look at it from another angle, I went to examine the other side of the spectrum. I like to think for every selfish person in the world, there is at least one selfless one to keep things in balance.
Those that did things for others simply for the act of helping someone else were not any less prone to depression, loneliness or insecurity. What they did have that the others were lacking was an inner joy that was not so fleeting as that of a fulfilled selfish need. There is a warmth that comes from helping others that lasts, and is passed on from one moment to the next. A person can rest at the end of the day, knoing they made other person’s life that much better.
So what if we started living for others? What if we went to work in the morning trying to figure out a way to make the boss smile instead of concocting a story about low blood sugar so we could have the first and best donut in the break room? What if we made a meal for someone too ill, too busy, or too bereaved to cook for themselves? Would the world become a better place? Would others take from our leads and start helping others as well? I have to believe it could happen.
I’d like to encourage you to try it today. See what you can do to make someone’s world brighter. Don’t make them have to ask you for it, and don’t think about what you could possibly gain return.
For those that may be asking me, “What’s in this for you?” Well, perhaps a little selfishly, I’d like to see a few more smiles today. A happier day where people give more compliments than condemnations, that’s what’s in it for me.