Every time I hear a religious leader tell their congregation that they need to sacrifice in the service of others I want to SCREAM. Then I realize how fortunate I’ve been to discover that there is no sacrifice involved in serving others. Instead there is joy and abundance.
Sacrifice? What sacrifice?
The word sacrifice implies loss and, typically, loss is considered painful. That’s not been what I experience when I serve others. Years ago I made it my mission to leave everyone I meet better off than before we met. It’s a simple as giving them a reason to smile or to feel better about themselves. Please tell me what I lost, what I gave up, to accomplish this task. Nothing!
Instead I experience joy. The person feels better, consequently I feel better. I experience their joy which enhances mine. I also feel that I have something of value to offer which gives me a sense of self worth which gives my life purpose. Social psychologists studies have shown that people who have purpose live happier, healthier, longer lives.
When there is something I want to achieve, the people I’ve helped extend unsolicited offers to help me achieve what I desire. Social psychologists refer to this as the law of reciprocity. The law states that when one person does something for another, the recipient desires to return the kindness.
Indeed, one social psychologist reported that a poor country sent troops to aid another country because 50 years prior, they’d received military help from that country. Fifty years later the law of reciprocity, the desire to repay kindness, was alive and well.
Let’s recap. I gave up nothing.
- The joy of seeing others experience joy.
- A sense of value and self worth.
- A healthier, happier and, possibly, longer life. (I’ve already begun my 8th decade)
- People who readily offer their assistance in helping me achieve what I desire.
If I were using a scale to weigh the costs versus the benefits of enriching the lives of others, I’d have to say that the result is heavily weighted in my favor.
The next time you feel like you might be giving something up for the benefit of another person, remember all that you’ll gain in return. My experience has been that whatever I give always comes back to me in multiples. Using the scale metaphor again, my giving is far outweighed by what I gain.
I’m not suggesting that this should be your reason for giving. Giving in this context implies a transactional quality that strips the joy and the desire to reciprocate. You know from personal experience that in any transaction, any fair exchange between two parties, there is no desire to reciprocate. Value was given for value and the transaction is complete.
But when you receive a gift from someone who expects nothing in return, you know how strongly you want to repay their kindness. Giving is not a sacrifice, nor is it a transaction, it’s a blessing bestowed on another that coincidentally produces joy and abundance.
For our kids
Bulling has always been a problem for youth from time immemorial. Let’s help our kids experience the joy and abundance of giving. One of the best ways to do that is by living the message. Kids emulate the behaviors of the adults in their lives. When you give generously and often, when you demonstrate that you genuinely care about others by helping each and every person you meet feel better about themselves, your kids will adopt these behaviors.
When your kids do something nice for someone ask them “How do you feel about what you just did?” This simple question enables them to become aware of the joy they are creating. Instead of it being a passing emotion, it’s one they begin to experience and savor. By creating this awareness, you instill in them the desire to experience this joy again and again. Imagine how good you’ll feel about yourself in helping kids live more joyfully.
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