Helping Others as a Powerful Way to Help Yourself
Do you enjoy giving as much as you like to receive? Of course, it’s always delightful to enjoy the thrill of opening presents on any special occasion. But there are other kinds of gift that we can share that don’t involve wrapping paper, shiny ribbons or gift cards. There is, of course, the gift of a helping hand, a kind gesture, a listening ear and the precious time to show how much you care.
It sometimes seems odd that we need to be reminded of this most fundamental human dynamic but the simple fact is that we really thrive when we help one another along life’s pathway. It’s an aspect of life that’s been overshadowed by the need to get ahead and make more money – at any price. Some cultures have become so obsessed with the importance of material wealth that they’ve managed to put a cash value on everything, including the cost of a human life. If we look back at our history, we can see that this is not a positive development for any civilisation. Our ability to overcome challenges, even on a global scale, has always depended on our ability to co-operate and help one another. This applies on an individual basis but it also applies on an international scale.
It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed. – Napoleon Hill
Whereas the world has shifted in many places towards a marked materialistic standpoint, we should never neglect the importance of our intrinsic humanity. Despite our best efforts to quantify the value of our connections to others, we ignore the gifts of a richly fulfilling relationship at our peril. We run the risk of living lives that are essentially shallow and deeply unsatisfying. This is not to suggest that we should lurch from one extreme to another. We live in a materialistic world and most of us need to create the means to live in it. Indeed, most of us seek to thrive. So, wealth in itself is not the problem. The difficulties arise when wealth is adopted as a substitute for other, less tangible aspects of the human experience.
If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else. – Booker T. Washington
We live in a highly competitive world and competition usually thrives on the concept of beating the opposition. That can apply within a sales team, an office, a company or an entire nation. We love to celebrate winners. We’ve been educated to respect the ways of winning – and, however you choose to interpret the dynamics of a competitive society, that usually implies that someone has to lose. This is only a reflection of reality.
But this concept also extends into the way we select people to hold positions of power. We tend to choose confident people as business and political leaders because they present themselves as successful individuals and they learn to project the bearing that we associate with winners. When you pause to think about it, this is a very strange way to choose any kind of leader. Confidence, as we all know, does not equate to competence. History is full of confident men whose competence proved woefully inadequate in the face of challenges.
If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. – Isaac Newton
Often, the problem can be distilled down into a simple question of perspective. When times are tough and we need to respond to competitive challenges, this is precisely when we tend to lose our broader perspective and become too focused on whatever problem confronts us. The evidence clearly reveals that this is not the best way to deal with any kind of challenge. Research indicates that, in the face of a setback, we tend either to do more of the same things that we usually do – or we do less of the same things. But we rarely try something radically and creatively different. Challenges demand innovation. And innovation thrives in the presence of co-operation.
By stepping beyond this very limiting mindset of focusing solely on our own immediate and personal needs, by responding to the needs of others in a helpful spirit of mutual support and co-operation, we enjoy the advantages of the group dynamic. This is how we thrive. This is also how we can share the spirit of prosperity rather than enslave ourselves to the spirit of selfishness. By helping others, we help ourselves. We enrich the condition of our social connections and make it easier to share the benefits across a wider spectrum.
It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed. – Charles Darwin
After all, people tend to become more selfish when they fear that there aren’t enough resources to go around. And this is especially true when we consider the sensitive subject of money.
When we create the illusion of a shortage of money in the world, we become defensive, anxious, even desperate. Yet, it’s abundantly obvious that there is far more money in circulation today than you could possibly imagine. Its scale is simply too vast for the human imagination to grasp. Yet, we behave as if there were not enough to go around. So, we react with our old instinctive fears and cultivate beliefs that we have to fight for every single coin that comes our way. A spirit of abundance, however, takes un in the opposite direction and turns down the stress response. A spirit of co-operation enhances our creativity. An environment of mutual care and support helps us to be more innovative.
If you’re looking for an answer to the modern problems of alienation, constant anxiety and an abiding fear for the future, take a moment to find a way to help someone. It’s an extraordinarily powerful way to shift your mindset onto a different level of perception and step out of the shadows of fear.
It’s a new and better way to live. It’s good for the people around you. And it’s also incredibly helpful for you too.
There is no such thing as a self-made man. You will reach your goals only with the help of others. – George Shinn