August 20     

Today's quotation:

By helping yourself, you are helping humankind.  By helping humankind, you are helping yourself.  That's the law of all spiritual progress.

Christopher Isherwood

Today's Meditation:

I know far too many people who feel that if they do things for themselves, they're being selfish and greedy.  They've learned somehow, somewhere, that they need to look after other people all the time, that they can't take care of themselves because that would reveal a character flaw that they don't want to expose.  But the truth is that when we help ourselves, we make ourselves stronger and more capable of helping others.

On a superficial level, for example, if I take a job that earns me more money, then I'll have more money to be able to share with others, to help them out when they need it.  If I'm burned out at work and I'm feeling horrible, just how effective am I going to be when a friend comes to me just to talk?  Am I going to be giving them good advice?  Am I going to listen well?  Probably not.  But if I take some time off of work so that I can rest and get my bearings, I'll be much more ready to take on the task of helping someone else, and I'll be much better at it.

And then, when I do help someone else, I'm creating for myself a sense of satisfaction that is very beneficial to me.  When I'm able to give or loan money to someone who desperately needs it, I'm seeing a payoff for all my hard work-- the money has a much deeper purpose than just buying the same old stuff.  When I'm able to sit and listen to someone else who desperately needs to talk, I'm seeing the benefits of doing something important to help myself.

It's wonderful-- and even necessary-- to help other people if we want to live our lives fully.  But we can't neglect ourselves in the equation.  If we do so, we risk not being able to help others, or being completely ineffective when we try to do so.

Questions to consider:

Why do so many people think that it's selfish for us to help ourselves?

What is the best thing that you could do for yourself right now?

What kinds of opportunities do you have to help others?  Do you take advantage of those opportunities?

For further thought:

Helping others, that's the main thing.  The only way for us to help ourselves is to help others and to listen to each other's stories.

Eli Wiesel

more on helpfulness



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