Section 2: INCREASING THE GOODNESS IN OUR LIVES
DOING FOR OTHERS
Looking Past Ourselves
If you have reviewed many of our lessons, you may be getting a bit weary from our making of this point…life is about helping others. It’s about being sincerely concerned about someone in need and, more importantly, making the choice to help them in some way. If doing for others is missing from your life or even if you are just “a quart low” in this regard, we urge you to make helpful words and actions a higher priority in your life.
The purpose of human life is to serve,
and to show compassion and the will to help others.
There are millions of helpful acts of goodness that take place throughout the world each day. To some of us, these actions are evidence of God’s Spirit of Goodness at work in the world. We believe that, subject to the choices we make, God’s Spirit will motivate and guide us to use our lives to help others in some special way.
But there are also millions of us who spend our days almost totally focused on ourselves. We have plenty to do or worry about: responsibilities at home, work or school; bills and financial obligations; and health-related matters to name a few. “How on earth could I find the time to help or be concerned about someone else?” you ask.
Yes, some of us know there are people who need help, but…“I just don’t have the time or the resources to do something to help.” Please Note: If this description fits you in any way, you should stop now and think about how you are choosing to live your life.
Leo Buscaglia, the author of Living, Loving, and Learning, suggested living our lives this way:
It’s not enough to have lived.
We should be determined to live for something.
May I suggest that it be creating joy for others,
sharing what we have for the betterment of person-kind,
bringing hope to the lost and love to the lonely.
Focus On You…or the Other Guy?
Don’t Overlook the Other Guy
Our lives are more meaningful when we are kind to others, even in small ways. We grow a little bit every time we reach out and help someone or show kindness in some way. We also find joy from living that way. Those who just live their life for themselves and never give others much thought tend, at some point, to look back and feel that their life didn’t count for as much as they had hoped.
Yes, we have our family, school, work, and other activities that require a lot of our time and attention. But to live life in a fuller way, we need to look beyond our immediate responsibilities to others who need food, shelter, love, or other small attentions that are missing from their lives.
It is extending our concerns beyond our own needs that adds another dimension to our lives. We just feel better when we work to live that way, and doing so sets a wonderful example for other family members, friends, and even strangers to follow. Here are three reasons why being kind is a way of life any of us can adopt and practice:
1. It doesn’t take a lot of money.
Smiles, handshakes, and extending a friendly “Bill, how are you doing?” don’t cost anything, but they can show others, sometimes in very significant ways, that you care about them. When someone feels such caring, even in these small ways, it can make a major difference in their lives.
2. It doesn’t take a lot of your time.
You could devote some time each week to do small things that can make a big difference in the lives of others. You could run an errand for an elderly couple who lives down the street. If you are very young, you could clean up your room to save your mom time to do other family things. You could ask an older person who may have few friends to go with you to lunch. These are little things that don’t take a great deal of time, but are oh so important to others.
3. It will make a major difference in their life…and in yours.
No question, others will appreciate your kindness when you reach out to them in some way. But reaching out to people in need can make your life more worthwhile as well, in some cases even significantly change it. You will grow in many ways when you start to use part of your life to help others.
It’s Your Choice
Let’s be honest here . . . most of us need to improve in the ways we show caring and concern for others. Few of us would get an A+ in this area of our lives.
If you’ve been managing your life in a somewhat self-centered way, we urge you to stop now and make the choice to begin making small differences in the lives of others. Without a firm choice to do something specific, your life will just move along as usual. But with such a choice, you can make your life and the life of someone else more important, more meaningful, and more enjoyable in many ways.
This is a choice that can make a huge difference in someone’s life and in your life as well. So, we end this lesson with this question:
Will you make such a choice?
The best way to find yourself
is to lose yourself in the service of others.
On a being-kind-to-others scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate yourself?
What can you do to improve your score?
How do you see family members or friends choosing to make a difference in the life of others?
Do you need help in finding an individual or group that you could help?
If so, who could assist you in this search?