The best way of fulfilling your own interest is to take care of others. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
I suppose this quote depends on how you define your own interests. Yes, there are things in which you are interested, and things you think you want, but what is in your actual best interest?
If you can see past the dollar signs and deep into yourself, you probably see something a little different. Building your best possible self rarely relies on cash or power.
In my experience, what that part of us typically needs is to help others, to connect with others, to be useful and relevant to others. And, for those of you who have done it, it really is a great feeling.
Doing for others feeds a deep portion of what makes us good people. It isn’t something immediate, like hunger or thirst. But without it, we will die inside, just as without food or water we will die on the outside.
Those who are only focused on the things outside themselves may not recognize this truth, but few people on their death-bead wish they’d spent more time at the office. That might be something to think about.
Why is caring for others important?
Have you ever had an experience like that, where helping someone suddenly seemed like your greatest accomplishment ever? To me, that is what this quote is all about. That is how fulfilling your own interest feels, and the acts of caring for others is how it is accomplished.
I guess the question that puzzles me is why do these acts provide such great feelings for us? I don’t know. What I do know is that our bodies are wired to reward activities that bring benefit to them, such as eating, drinking, and doing other bodily functions. We feel better for having done them.
All I can guess is that other parts of us, our soul or our inner self, has a similar reward mechanism. When we do nice things, we feel better. When other people do nice things for us, we feel better. I don’t believe in coincidences, I believe there is a reason. It’s my working hypothesis, until I can come up with something better. How about you, what are your thoughts?
Where can I apply this in my life?
I suppose the first step is to determine how fulfilled you believe you are. Do you feel a need to take care of others, to contribute to their welfare in some way, shape, or form? If not, I guess we’re done, and I hope you stop by to read tomorrow’s blog post.
The rest of us have a little more introspection, I believe. Of all the things you have done for others, which are the ones that were the most fulfilling? Which made you feel the best about yourself and humanity? Is there any common thread between them, a pattern or theme?
Some acts may hold greater value to you than others. Even something as simple as giving cash to a charity helps to take care of others. It sounds a little cold, but some people have more money than time, so they give of the time they worked to make the money. Others have more time than money, and give their time instead.
With your thoughts gathered, what were some of the things that did the most for you? What are some of the things you can do to replicate some of those feelings, and to help others? Some things may be unique to a situation, but you might be able to do something similar today, right?
What are some of the places that would allow you to do things like the things that made you feel so good inside? If you can’t name one off the top of your head, open another browser window and start searching. There has to be something out there that will fulfill you, and take care of others.
Before you lose all those ideas, perhaps you should grab some paper and write a few of them down, along with what contact information you might have found. Now consider what your resources are, both now, and in the upcoming new year. Do you have time, money, or other resources to spare?
Sometimes it comes down to simply taking a moment and looking within, or listening to what the quiet voice inside is saying to us. Just as our physical bodies have needs, so does our spirit, our inner self. I would rather not starve my inner self. What about you, is your inner self well fed?
For many, this season is the toughest of the year. For many, this is the most joyous season of the year. Perhaps we can share some joy with those who are having a tough time. Everyone wins, and we are all nourished inside.