It’s often said that the secret of happiness is to help others. To paraphrase the well-known Chinese proverb, “If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody,” yet many of us have forgotten how to do this.
It’s not our fault – we live in a world that teaches us to be independent and self-serving, and gone are the days where we lean on members of our communities for help. Today, we’re expected to be our own makers and solve our own problems, but this is simply not how human beings have evolved.
While self-promotion, reflection and indeed self-care are all valid and important, in our quest to better ourselves we should not forget how to be kind and compassionate to those around us. Read on to discover how you can become more selfless and learn to help others.
When you think about the poverty and injustice in the world, it’s easy to feel helpless in the face of it all, especially if you’re not in a position to help financially. However, you don’t need to donate money or launch a trailblazing campaign to make a difference – some people just want to be heard. Get to know your neighbors and ask them, genuinely, how they are. Instead of thinking about what you will say to someone or trying to relate to the story they’re telling, just listen. If you don’t know anyone in your area or you live somewhere remote, why not volunteer for a charity helpline or help out at a nearby homeless shelter?
Give Back to Your Community
The rise of individualism has seen a worldwide epidemic of depression and mental illness, causing both scholars and scientists to question whether we were happier when we lived in small, rural communities. Human connection is vital to both mental and physical health, so try to embed yourself in your local community as much as possible. Make friends in the area, volunteer at charity events, and help improve the local health service by making your voice heard. The easiest way to do this is to review a doctor or health service online so your feedback can help others.
Treat Others How You’d Like to be Treated
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Whether or not you’re religious, chances are you will have heard these words, known as the Golden Rule from the ethical teachings of Jesus. The Rule may reflect an ancient sentiment, but it is one that remains relevant to this day. It’s easy to grow frustrated when we feel others aren’t treating us as well as we’d like, but instead of growing resentful, find opportunities to practice compassion and treat others how you’d like to be treated if the situation were reversed.
These suggestions might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but if we all practiced at least one act of kindness or selflessness each day, we would see a vast transformation in the world we live in.