I must give back and help others, have a friend and be a friend, help others in order to expand the circle of people I can call upon in difficult times. Reducing the suffering of others can help create a sense of meaning and personal growth.
The Dalai Lama observed that one should be wise selfish by which he was highlighting that the best way to help yourself is by helping others. Love and service to others bring rewards to oneself that otherwise would be unachievable.”
In their book Why Good Things Happen to Good People, Stephen Post, Jill Neimark and Otis Moss observe: “Giving is the most potent force in the planet and will protect you your whole life.”
Being altruistic reduces unhealthy qualities like stress, greed, jealousy and self-centeredness while fostering qualities such as happiness, mental health, well-being and a sense meaning/purpose to life. People who volunteer to help others are physically healthier and even live longer. Spending one’s time and resources on others can contribute to what is called a “helper’s high”. Moreover, such “give back” can have a “multiplier effect” and ripple through a social network and induce cooperation and altruism in others.
Please answer the following Hinge Questions.
Can you recall an instance of altruism that you received from someone else? Can you recall a memory of altruism that you shared with someone else?
Consider what gifts you can share with others. As Dr. Robert Brooks (Brooks & Goldstein, 2003) observes, we are not talking about material gifts like money or material objects, but your personal gifts or island of competence that you possess that you can share with others.
Gifts are abilities that we are born with and can develop. We each have an island of competence or an area that is or has the potential to be a source of pride and achievement that we can share with others.
- “What ‘island of competence’ do I have?”
- “What abilities and positive qualities do I have?”
- “What positive qualities do people say I have?”
- “How would I like others to describe me?”
- “How would they actually describe me?”
- “If there is a difference between how I would like others to describe me and how they would actually describe me, what steps can I take so that they will describe me in the way I would like?”
- “Would I want anyone to say or do to me what I have done to others?”
- “Who are the people in my life that I can give to?”
- “When was the last time that I shared with someone else? What was it?”
- “What do I give that makes me feel good?”
- “Give a recent example of when you were an affectionate/agreeable/attentive listener; considerate/compassionate/empathetic/fun to be with/forgiving/generous/ respectful/responsive to the needs of others; supportive/trustworthy.”
- “What examples would love ones and friends offer of each of these behaviors that they have seen you demonstrate?”
“No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted.”
“Stress is cumulative. It can pile up. I had to detox for a few hours. I had to find someone to share this with. If I felt alone, if I felt that the Army did not acknowledge my sacrifice, it made it worse. The Army preaches, the Band of Brother’s concept: ‘Leave no man behind.’ This applies while bullets are flying during combat and it also applies after a deployment when soldiers are wrestling with the memories of the war. We are expected to stand by each other.
It also applies to my family who had to live through my deployment. Remember TO GIVE IS TO GET.”
“I had a Battle Buddy. Now I have a Family Buddy.”