Last week I shared that when faced with life’s challenges and especially when dealing with prolonged and ongoing uncertainty, a good starting place to mount an effective response begins with self-care.
Self-care is the right starting point from which to address everything in life. The statement: “Fill your own cup first” is right on or you won’t have much of anything to share with others. Or worse yet, you may find that you get to a place where you are so depleted that you just can’t give any more — “burnt out” is a condition that is all too real.
Once we have attended to the basics — getting rest, adequate nutrition, finding a way to maintain your livelihood during a pandemic, no less, you may ask yourself “Is that all there is?” Well no.
With many states experiencing surges of Covid-19 and death rates going up, we are in a perpetual state of crisis. But throughout history, when people experience hardship or natural disaster or war or terrorist attacks, so often, they turn their attention to others.
In the 9/11 attacks, there were countless stories of people who made it out of the buildings but who returned to help and sometimes carry out others. And if you have friends in New York City and you ask them about “before and after” 9/11, many of them will share that, after those attacks, New York City was a kinder and gentler place to live and work.
Once you have taken care of yourself and “your own” consider what steps you can take to make a difference “out there.” Whether that turns out to be the widow next door or patronizing the farmers’ market more frequently or supporting your local small businesses or volunteering in a food bank or becoming a mentor to a young person who really needs your help — it all matters! Creating good that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t taken action has a far-reaching effect. Not only does it help the recipient but it helps build you, the giver, in a myriad of ways. It’s all connected.
At a time when we are under unprecedented stress, going out of our way for others grows and empowers us in ways we might not have imagined. On a deep level, it creates a greater sense of personal worthiness and effectiveness. When we step out on behalf of others we often discover aspects of ourselves we didn’t previously know existed.
Altruism — without it humanity would have disappeared from the face of the earth eons ago. Altruism expands connectedness and with expanded connectedness, all manner of new things can occur.
When you pursue happiness for its own sake, most often, it eludes you — but when you seek it for others through your own kind action, happiness will often enfold you in its warm embrace.
I am happy to report that at a time like this there is evidence of a magnitude of caring and altruistic human beings, many of whom are responding in ways that might have been unthinkable before the pandemic. And I’m not just making that up — we receive press releases sharing new forms of philanthropy and assistance. And we hear on social media and neighborhood blogs of creative ways people are reaching out to their neighbors. Perhaps you know of an unusual kindness happening in your community — would you like us to share it with our readers? If so, send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
Get out there and do something “new to you” to make a difference — when you do, we guarantee you will come to know yourself better and become more effective in every area of your life!
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