Giving of yourself to finding yourself

bee on a flower in the nature. macro

All people want to achieve meaning, fulfillment, and happiness. However, thousands of years of human history confirm that these things come not from being self-centered, but rather from making a difference and giving happiness to others. Mother Teresa is a famous example. She found fulfillment when she helped change the expression on dying people’s faces from distress and fear to calmness and serenity. By giving herself to others, she made their undeniable pain a little easier to bear.

The Sufi Nasruddin (a Sufi is a Muslim spiritualist and wise person) tells the story of a person who is drowning. People shouted at the man, “Give us your hand so we can save you!” But the man was hesitant. Finally someone said to the man, “Take my hand,” and the man took it. This man was more familiar with taking than giving. He almost died as a result.

If you find yourself feeling unhappy, try making someone else happy and see what happens. If you are feeling empty and unfulfilled, try doing some meaningful and worthwhile work and see how you feel.

The catch is that you must do this work with passion and enthusiasm. If you are not passionate, it is hard to produce good work. You are less likely to feel fulfilled and happy or to believe your work is meaningful. In the end, you will lose energy for the work, leaving you with poor results.

There is a story of an elderly carpenter who was ready to retire. The carpenter told his employer of his plans to leave the house-building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife, enjoying his extended family. The employer was sorry to see his employee go and asked if he would build just one more house as a personal favor to him. The carpenter reluctantly agreed. He did sloppy work and he used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.

When the carpenter finished his work, the employer came to inspect the house. Then he handed the front-door key to the carpenter. “This is your house,” he said. “It is my retirement gift to you.” The carpenter was shocked. If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently.

So it is with all people. Every person builds his or her own house, his or her own life, a step at a time, often half-heartedly. Then with a shock they realize they have to live in the house they have built. If they could do it over, they’d do it differently. But they cannot go back.

You are the carpenter; your life is your building project. When you treat others in the way you wish to be treated, you are building with love and care. Always do your best because the choices you make today build your future.

“A rich life,” writes philosopher and theologian Cornel West, “consists fundamentally of serving others, trying to leave the world a little better than you found it.” Every one of us can have a rich life if we choose.

If you are wealthy but unable to share your wealth or give of your possessions and knowledge, you are not really rich. Conversely, if you are not wealthy but give of your self, your time, and your knowledge, you are indeed quite rich — and you will receive far more than you can ever imagine.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “There is always enough for the needy but never enough for the greedy.” Have you ever noticed how the needy frequently find a way to be grateful for the very little they have, while the greedy never seem to have enough?

If you are worth billions of dollars and have no people or causes to give your money to, what do you do with your money? How many houses can you live in? How many cars can you drive? How many meals can you eat? And even if you indulge in all of these things to excess, what do you do with the rest of your money?

There is a story of a wealthy businessman who never gave anything to anyone. A tenacious fundraiser approached the man to ask for a gift to a charitable cause, but the man refused to contribute. After much persuasion, the fundraiser eventually asked the wealthy man to pick up some good dirt from his garden and hand it to him as his gift. Wanting to get rid of the fundraiser and knowing the dirt was free, the man picked it up and gave it to the fundraiser, who then left. A few days later, the wealthy man, who was now curious, asked the fundraiser why he had asked for the dirt. The fundraiser explained, “I wanted you to taste the beauty of giving, even though it is only dirt you were giving. Once you taste the beauty of giving something small, you will eventually give something big.”

Of course, it would have helped if the miserly man from our story understood that the more you give, the more you receive. This may sound like a paradox — but it’s true. The more you give of yourself, the more you find of yourself. When you make a positive difference in the lives of others, you make a positive difference in your own life. Giving is a “win-win” proposition.

Author Earl Nightingale tells a story of a man who went to his empty fireplace and said, “Give me heat and I’ll give you the wood.” But giving does not work that way. In fact, giving functions under the universal law of cause and effect. You need to work for the wood before you get the heat. In other words, our rewards will always match and follow our service or, in the words of the Bible, You will always reap what you sow.

“When all is said and done,” says author Og Mandino, “success without happiness is the worst kind of failure.”

How can you find that happiness? It all comes back to giving. If you want to have happiness, you need to give happiness. If you want wealth, you need to give wealth. If you want love, you need to give love. For it is only in giving that you receive. Giving enriches your life with meaning, fulfillment, and happiness. It allows you to unleash your potential and create breakthroughs. In fact, it is a privilege to give. So give of your time, your knowledge, your wisdom, your wealth, and your love — and experience the power and beauty of giving.


(Excerpt from the book, The Power of Giving by Azim Jamal & Harvey McKinnon)


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