Helping others helps yourself
“By helping others, you will learn how to help yourselves.” Aung San Suu Kyi
Today’s inspiration has wisdom on multiple levels. On one level, our direct interactions with others inform us about ourselves. Everything that we know about ourselves, and the qualities we perceive about ourselves, can only arise in dependence upon our environment, relationships, and encounters with others. We know we’ve said something funny when others laugh. We know we’ve said something inappropriate by the looks we receive. Our behavior and perceptions are shaped by our environments and those we are surrounded with. As we discussed yesterday, we can recognize the sufferings and hardships of others as similar to our own. So when we help others overcome their challenges, we develop the tools and knowledge to overcome our own. Such wisdom runs deeper than that of academic learning, for it comes from our direct experiences.
On another level, simply the act of helping others helps ourselves. The mental health, well-being and resiliency we receive by expanding our care and concern to an ever widening circle, is truly immeasurable. The more our focus is on ourselves and our own well-being, the smaller our world becomes and the more the intensity of our suffering increases. This can be directly experienced in very simple ways. When we are sitting at an event and focus on ourselves, we will quickly discover many discomforts. We will squirm in our chair, need to reposition ourselves, have itches that need to be scratched and aches that appear in our body. However, when we expand our attention to the environment and the event taking place, perhaps being caught up in the music that’s being played, we are less aware of any physical discomfort though we are sitting in the same chair. You can explore this tendency in virtually any situation. The more we focus on ourselves, the greater the potential is to experience dissatisfaction. When we expand our attention to include the welfare of others, not only do we have the potential to develop greater self-worth and well-being, we are no longer focused on minor stresses and worries that might otherwise consume us.
I invite you to explore the difference between being self-concerned and concerned for others. Test what happens when you focus only on yourself and your desires. Then notice how you feel when you’re actively engaged in helping others. John Bruna, June 21, 2016
The above is a an excerpt from one the daily emails sent to the members of the Mindful Life Community. I invite you to explore our community and consider joining.
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