May 15     

Today's quotation:

We can never untangle all the woes in other people's lives.  We can't produce miracles overnight.  But we can bring a cup of cool water to a thirsty soul, or a scoop of laughter to a lonely heart.

Barbara Johnson

Today's Meditation:

I know a lot of people who feel that it's their duty to "fix" other people's lives.  Whenever they see someone else in distress, they do their best to tell them what they need to do or how they need to think in order to make things better in their lives.  They do this with the best of intentions, of course, but they also are doomed to failure most of the time because they don't keep in mind two basic principles of personal change:  change comes from inside, and change comes only when we're ready for it.

If a friend of mine has problems, it's not up to me to solve those problems, is it?  But I can help that friend deal with the problems and to deal with the way life tends to get more hectic while we're dealing with problems.  We can't cause another person to get over his or her grief at the death of someone special, but we can give the person encouragement and support during the time of grief.

When I've been down, the people who have helped me the most have been those who simply were there for me, not the ones who offered solutions.  Many people even say things like "You shouldn't feel this way," which they see as a solution but which doesn't help my situation at all.

People who are hurting are indeed thirsty, and it's important that we just bring them the water, not what we believe to be the cure for their ills.  Their cures can come only from themselves, no matter how good our intentions.  Healers will tell you that they don't actually cure anything, but just give people the opportunity to heal themselves.  Taking away the thirst can help someone deal with the deeper issues on their own.

Questions to consider:

Why do we so often feel the need to "cure" other people's ills?

How might you bring a "scoop of laughter" to someone else?

What helps you most--people who give support, or people who want to change the way you see things in order to "heal" you?

For further thought:

The truest help we can render afflicted people is not to take their burdens from them, but to call out their best energy, that they may be able to bear the burden.

Phillips Brooks

more thoughts and ideas on helpfulness



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