Source: Interfaith Ministries / Interfaith Ministries
One of the earliest proverbs known to humankind is: “It is better to give than receive.” The adage is rooted in the Golden Rule and the Christian Bible: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
However, today, those sentiments are too often overshadowed by the pursuit of instant gratification, financial success, personal ambition, and other learned self-rewarding behaviors. Very often, it seems to be a “me first” and every person for themselves world.
Our Most Basic Instinct
In spite of the apparent “me first” mind-set, there has really been little change in humanity. Our most basic, primal instinct has always been self-preservation and self-protection. We are naturally “wired” to survive, to continue to strive, to try harder — even when the “going gets tough”. As the saying goes, that is when “the tough get going.”
But there is a very simple secret. When we show gratitude for other people and give of ourselves, we are rewarded with pleasurable benefits, too numerous to measure. But more importantly, those who are the receivers of our generosity, will have many benefits as well. Why is this so? There is another easy answer: Helping others is our second most basic instinct.
What You See Is What You Get
Many people argue that the world is in a mess. That could be true, depending on how you view the world. What you see is what you get. It is all about your perspective. If you simply change your perspective, from negative to positive for example, the effect on you physically and mentally will be unimaginably positive.
When was the last time you visited an aging senior? If we are lucky, we too will be an aging senior one day. How did it feel being in that person’s presence? Can you recall your desire to make that person happy? How did it feel with that as your dominant thought at the time?
Doing Unto Others Benefits Everyone
When was the last time you dropped a dollar or two in a street corner musician’s plate? Or, helped out a homeless person? Volunteered at the food bank, a group home or the hospital? Doesn’t it make you have a greater sense of humility? Does it make you feel closer to everyone and more a part of the community and the world around you? Can you recall a time when a simple act of kindness benefiting you, came close to bringing tears to your eyes or simply sent a chill through your body?”
Those occasions are precious to our very spirit, mainly because they fulfill part of our reason for being. For a time we stop focusing on the “me” and enjoy the light and happiness we can bring to others. We do this by simply giving our attention to them and by sharing who we are with who they are. It has been said that “No man is an island.” That’s why there are so many of us — we are meant to live and work together.
The Gift of You
One of life’s most rewarding experiences is the act of giving. Volunteering not only has a positive benefit to the community, but the act has a positive benefit and effect on the giver. As we focus on giving, we cannot assume that what would be rewarding to you is going to automatically be rewarding to others. There are “different strokes for different folks.” Some people like fast food, others love health food. Some like opera, others like rap. Some people prefer time away from the job, while others thirst for recognition.
So, rather than exerting energy or spending money or doing something for others that they may not appreciate or like, make a gift of yourself. A gift of you is the only gift that is priceless. Happy Thanksgiving!
J Thomas Smith is host of “Sunday Morning Live” on “The Real Sound of Htown” KMJQ/Majic 102.1 (9-11 cst). He is an attorney, author, keynote speaker and mental health consultant. Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @drjtsmith102 on facebook.com/jthomas.smith.12 and instagram.com/drjtsmith102.