December 23, 2017
We all know how great it feels to receive gifts. However, the joy of getting is short-lived. Our lives are richer when we share, and that great inner joy comes from helping others to better their lives. Truly giving from the heart fills your life with joy and nourishes your soul. Giving provides an intrinsic reward that’s far more valuable than the gift. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “To find yourself, lose yourself in the service of others.” Giving takes you out of yourself and allows you to expand beyond earthly limitations. True joy lies in the act of giving without an expectation of receiving something in return.
Academic research and thousands of years of human history confirm that achieving meaning, fulfillment, and happiness in life comes from making others happy, and not from being self-centred. Mother Teresa is a famous example. She found fulfillment in giving of herself to others. She helped change the expression on dying people’s faces from distress and fear to calmness and serenity. She made their undeniable pain a little easier to bear.
When people are asked why they give, the readiest answers include: God wants me to; I feel better about myself; others need, and I have; I want to share; it’s only right. The question I would ask is how did you feel? I imagine you felt very pleased with yourself and happy inside. It has been my experience that when you’re focused on giving to others you’re less likely to become consumed by your own concerns and challenges. Giving provides an opportunity to look beyond our own world and see the bigger picture. A great perspective can be achieved by stepping out of our own world and venturing into the world of other people. Your worries and challenges may not seem as significant when compared to other people’s situations.
The act of giving kindles self-esteem and brings happiness. Scientists have discovered that happiness is related to how much gratitude you show. After several years of soul searching, I discovered that my unhappiness was due to my want for things to fill the void of loneliness. My search for inner happiness led me towards gratitude. During this process of self-realization, I also discovered “The Purpose of Living.” Yes, I believe that giving thanks makes you happier. But don’t take my word for it—try it out for yourself.
The power of giving
Giving is one of the best investments you can make towards achieving genuine happiness. True giving comes from the heart, with no expectation of reciprocation. You’ll find that the more you give, the more you’ll receive. The power of giving is manifested in the kindness and generosity that you bestow on someone else. When you give to another unselfishly, the vibrational energy emitting from your subconscious is at its strongest. The power of giving, according to neuroscience, is that it feels good. A Chinese proverb says: “If you always give, you will always have.” A famous American author and management expert, Ken Blanchard, declared “The more I give away, the more comes back.”
If you find yourself feeling unhappy, try making someone else happy and see what happens. If you’re 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.
There are many organizations, institutions and people who are engaged in exemplary works of giving. Narayanan Krishnan is a management graduate from Madurai, India who gave up his career as chef with a five-star hotel when he saw a man so hungry that he was feeding on his own excreta. From there on Krishnan started his noble initiative to feed thousands of destitute and homeless people in his state—free of cost. Another example of giving is Sanjit “Bunker” Roy, founder of the Barefoot College. Since graduating from college in 1965, Mr. Roy has committed his life to serve the poor and to help rural communities become self-sufficient. The Barefoot College education program encourages learning-by-doing, such as training grandmothers from Africa and the Himalayan region to be solar engineers so they could bring electricity to their remote villages.
It’s the joy and love that we extend to others that brings true happiness or union with God. When we give, we reap the joy of seeing a bright smile, laughter, tears of joy and gratitude for life. We know that if people give just a little more—of their time, skills, knowledge, wisdom, compassion, wealth and love—the world would be a more peaceful and healthier place.
The rewards of giving are priceless. If you want to have happiness, you need to give happiness. If you want love, you need to give love. It is only in giving that you receive. No matter what your circumstances in life, you have the ability to give. I encourage you to look for opportunities where you can give and help others. The gift of joy will come to you when you give of yourself to others. That’s what life is all about. Let’s practice and commit our lives to giving joy. Try it! It works!