In her book, The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin makes mention of something that she calls ‘The Secrets of Adulthood’ – these were lessons that she’d learnt along the way – many of them the hard way! Some of the items on her list included things like:
- You don’t have to be good at everything
- It’s ok to ask for help
- People don’t notice your mistakes as much as you think
- and amongst others, my favourite – don’t let the pursuit of the perfect be the enemy of the good.
I think we’ve all come across things in life that we’ve worked out as fact – and today I was reminded of one of my own – when you do good, you do it as much for yourself as for the other person.
Today, at work I mentioned to my boss (the owner of the company I work for) that I was planning to start volunteering next Monday. My boss is a good hearted guy, so he asked me all about what it was that I was doing. When I told him, he was genuinely happy that I’d found a project that I was really passionate about. We got to talking about life and how making even the smallest difference to someone could mean the world of difference to them. Eventually we got onto talking about how volunteering is really a two way street – the volunteer gets just as much out of it as the person who is receiving the help.
I remember reading an article a few years ago, basically slamming volunteers and saying that they were exceptionally selfish people who only gave their time away because of what they got back in return. At the time, I strongly disagreed with the article, but now I can see that a small part of it may just ring true. Whilst I don’t necessarily think that people go into volunteering as a way of boosting themselves up – I like to (naively perhaps) think that people are basically good and decide to volunteer because they genuinely want to help – there is definitely an element of both parties getting something out of it. I know that I was very excited when I heard that I had received a place to teach English and I had been matched with a Burmese family. A selfish part of my brain did consider the fact that I’ve always wanted to go to Burma (now Myanmar) and so I would be able to learn some of the culture from them for free, but my main motivation was always to help people in need. It wouldn’t have mattered if the family I was assigned to were from Afghanistan, Syria or anywhere else that refugees have come from (& that I had no immediate plans to travel to) – the fact is that people need help.
So, thinking about happiness – yes, for sure, the idea of helping gives me a great sense of purpose and happiness – I wouldn’t do it if it didn’t, but it’s really the idea of giving something back that is what’s driving me to want to help.
I like to think that life is about moments strung together – each moment in time should be appreciated because you never quite know just where the next moment will take you! Who’s to say that my very privileged life won’t one day some crashing down and I too may need some help – I’d like to think that if that were to happen, then there would be people willing to help me too 🙂
Till next time lovelies! xx
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